MARTINSVILLE — State Rep. Peggy Welch, D-60th District, ran her first campaign in 1998. Her consultants and fellow Democrats urged her to attack her opponent’s character.
“This is who I am, and this is how I run it,” she recalled saying.
Now, 14 years later, Welch has signed a pledge to combat her consultants’ urging to attack Peggy Mayfield, the Republican running for her seat in the Indiana House.
Welch’s consultants have said doing so is the best way to ensure a win, she said.
Again, Welch said she’s refused to engage in character attacks.
Welch signed a pledge in front of six individuals, two of whom were media affiliated, at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at her campaign headquarters in Martinsville.
The pledge promised members of District 60 that Welch’s campaign ads would focus on her plans and qualifications, rather than on her opponent.
Welch said in July she invited Mayfield to sign the pledge with her.
“When she eventually got back to me, she said she didn’t feel it was necessary because we both know how to run clean campaigns,” Welch said. “Which is fine. That’s her choice.”
Redistricting will change the landscape of Welch’s campaign this year, and she said 72 percent of District 60 is new to her.
“For me, it’s almost like starting over,” Welch said.
Welch asked the room for questions after she had finished signing the piece of paper with her promise to avoid mudslinging.
Gregg Terhune, president of the Community Taxpayers Association in Brown, Harrison and Madison townships, asked why Welch hasn’t spoken more about her position on several committees, such as the tax and budget Ways and Means Committee.
He said voters should know of her power in the Statehouse, to which she chuckled.
“If somebody else were to be dropped into District 60, they wouldn’t start appointed to the same positions as you. ... (They) wouldn’t be as influential as you,” Terhune said.
Welch answered by saying she believes, unless the election changes the current distribution, that she’ll be in the minority in the House.
“Just because you’re in the minority doesn’t mean you don’t have a voice,” Welch said.
She said she’s “reached across the aisle” on several issues during her time in the legislature.
In addition to her work in the Statehouse, Welch is a nurse in the cancer ward at IU Health Bloomington Hospital.
Dianna Jennings, a nurse who works with Welch, said she does not known Welch that well but became interested in the campaign after she received a negative phone call from Mayfield’s office.
The caller inquired after Welch’s record and after Jennings’ personal information, such as her religion. She said it made her uncomfortable.
“I was just shocked,” Jennings said. “I’ve done political phone calls, and I don’t remember (them) ever being so negative.”
Welch said she believes it’s her job to present herself and her issues fairly. It’s the media’s duty to provide information to the public that would expose errors or transgressions from both candidates, she said.
She also said people who would make good politicians choose not to run because of the mudslinging so common in elections. Welch said every person has a story filled with both positive and negative qualities.
“We have life,” she said. “We all have life, and maybe that makes us better public servants and leaders.”
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