Nestled beside an Obama for America pin, it flopped along as she walked from table to table at Nick’s English Hut Friday night.
She was there to support Democratic gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial candidates John Gregg and Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Bloomington.
“People are here to see their friends ... and see who’s not here,” she said with a chuckle as she moved to socialize at the bar.
More than 100 people ventured to the Hoosier Room for a meet and greet and fundraising evening with Gregg and Simpson. Students and community members mingled with candidates, sharing drinks, stories and strategies to defeat Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., on Election Day.
Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan introduced the duo.
“I know it’s Friday, and I know it’s Bloomington,” Gregg said to supporters. “I’m sure you’ve all got parties to get to.”
“This is the party,” one audience member shouted.
Gregg graduated from IU in 1976 with degrees in political science and history. The first time Gregg came to Nick’s was in the early ’70s.
“It is a great place,” he said.
Before joining his supporters in the Hoosier Room, Gregg said he stopped by campaign headquarters in Bloomington, where a group of about 20 students spoke with him about job markets and the affordability of college. More students standing on Kirkwood Avenue echoed the same concerns.
Gregg and Simpson addressed both issues Friday night.
Simpson emphasized the importance of electing a governor who supports higher education. She said higher education funding is being cut by $150 million a year, adding that Pence voted against Pell Grants six times.
“Education should be about K-16, not just K-12,” Simpson said.
The governor also appoints boards of trustees at public universities like IU, and Simpson said those appointments matter.
“Students need to make sure those appointees are supporters of public education, which isn’t the trend now,” she said.
Gregg echoed Simpson’s stance and said he is the only gubernatorial candidate that has a background in education. He served as interim president of Vincennes University from 2003 to 2004.
Gregg spoke of the economy and jobs.
“Jobs are first, second and third,” he said, “We can do this if we quit fussing about the Girl Scouts and the license plates.”
IU senior Joel Ahearn attended the meet and greet with his roommate. Both donated money to the campaign.
Over glass jars of Upland Wheat, the two talked about the upcoming election.
Ahearn said for him, the election will come down to college affordability, and that’s why he supports Gregg and Simpson.
“I work 40 hours a week,” he said. “I need my financial aid.”
Ahearn said he comes from a low-income household, so his loans and grants have helped him keep college affordable.
“I know it’s an issue,” he said. “Congress is trying to increase interest.”
The roommates said issues of gay rights and health care will influence their vote, too.
Simpson supports equal marriage for same-sex couples. Gregg does not. The lieutenant governor candidate made light of their conflicting ideologies.
“We don’t always agree on everything, but we’re getting better at it,” Simpson said as she playfully put her arm around Gregg. “I’m bringing him over to my side.”
Applause erupted throughout the room.
“Welcome to Bloomington,” Kruzan said.
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