Pharos-Tribune

Columns

May 23, 2012

A woman on both state tickets

May the best man — and woman — win.

It’s come down to that in the race for Indiana governor with both Republican Mike Pence and Democrat John Gregg selecting a female to join them atop their party’s state ballot. Pence moved first with the selection of freshman State Rep. Sue Ellsperman, then Gregg wasted little time in naming State Sen. Violet “Vi” Simpson of Elletsville as his running mate.

For the third time in eight years, both major parties will have male-female tickets. Yet the remaining “glass ceiling” question all Hoosiers have to wonder about is when Indiana will elect a female governor, or have a female lieutenant governor elevated to the governor’s chair. Indiana’s last two lieutenant governors have been women and the announcements this week all but assure the next lieutenant governor also will be female.

We’re coming closer to the day when the governor will be a female, but the race is still about two men for now. Some may forget that just four years ago, former Congresswoman Jill Long Thompson gave the major parties their first top-of-the-ticket female candidate.

In Simpson, Gregg not only picked a veteran of the Indiana Senate but one of the great minds in the Indiana General Assembly over the past 20 years. She’s never been in a Senate majority, but her name has frequently been mentioned in the same breath with some of the state’s major legislation.

The lieutenant governor choices in both cases seemed to avoid northern Indiana constituencies. It’s a bit peculiar since roughly two-thirds of the state’s population lives in the area from Indianapolis north to the Michigan state line. Pence lives near Indianapolis, and Simpson lives just south of it. It might have made sense for Pence to pick someone more like Simpson since he has no state government experience. It also might have made sense for Gregg to pick someone from northern Indiana since Pence didn’t.

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