KOKOMO – One month ago I traveled up U.S. Highway 35 from Kokomo to northern Indiana for a company golf outing. Highway 35 leads through a political mixture of both Democratic and Republican bastions as you snake your way to LaPorte. I found this trip noteworthy for the political yard signs that were sprinkled along the way. “Pence Must Go” and “Fire Pence” signs dotted the roadway in several locations.  
    
I had seen the same signs in yards along Capitol Avenue in Indianapolis, ever since the heated brouhaha over the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act exploded in the public mindset. Mind you, these aren’t hand-painted signs by individuals expressing their anger. These signs are professionally done and distributed as part of a longterm strategy to win the 2016 Indiana governor’s race by vilifying Mike Pence. Oops!
    
The problem with putting all of your chips on one number of the roulette wheel is that your number better come up or you are busted. With Gov. Pence accepting the vice presidential nomination on the Trump ticket, removing him from the Indiana ballot, the obsessive focus of John Gregg and the Democratic Party on a “Pence Must Go” strategy has left them flat busted.
    
Now, the intellectually bankrupt Indiana Democratic Party, instead of trying to wage a war of ideas with the Republican Party, has come up with the specious argument that since Mike Pence appointed Eric Holcomb as his lieutenant governor, Holcomb has become the Pence surrogate. I’ll bet the creative geniuses in the Democratic Party are already hard at work cranking out “Holcomb Must Go” signs.  
    
Sorry troops, it just isn’t going to work.
    
I’ve found it interesting that John Gregg has been able to fool the ultra-liberal wing of his party into forgetting his past positions on social issues held near and dear by his current minions. Make no mistake about it. In 2012 and before, John Gregg was against gay marriage. In fact, he supported an Indiana Constitutional Amendment to define that marriage was between one man and one woman. John Gregg has always tried to have his cake and eat it too, by claiming to be pro-life and yet a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood and their abortion agenda. Gregg has also tried to convince the adoring leftist wing of his party that he is a strong believer in the global warming claptrap, while at the same time he’s just a southern Indiana coal miner at heart. This dog just isn’t going to hunt!
    
If I weren’t just another heartless Republican, I just might feel sorry for John Gregg and the Democrats. Indiana’s economy is hitting on all six cylinders and a potential strategy of talking down the Hoosier employment, wage and business environment is simply a non-starter.
    
Let me refresh your memory: CNB, Indiana first in United States for cost of doing business; Forbes, Indiana second in United States for regulatory environment; Tax Foundation, Indiana eighth in United States for overall business climate; Chief Executive, Indiana in Top Five for business; AAA bond rating; record workforce participation; state budget surplus, $2 billion state reserve.
    
One of the things that I was most struck by at the Republican National Convention was the reputation of Indiana held by delegates from other states. They referred to Indiana as a “wonder” and a “miracle.”  Every delegate I spoke with wanted to know how we did it in Indiana and I gave the same response, “Elect a Republican governor and give them a Republican legislative team and you will get things done.”
    
The uncreative Democrat strategists appear to be trying to use some contrived political algebra to get at the new reality in the governor’s race. If “A” equals “C” and “B” equals “C”, then “A” and “B” must be equal. That approach might work with integers, but it fails when applied to governor candidates. Just because you say Mike Pence and Eric Holcomb are the same doesn’t make it so.
    
Eric Holcomb presents Indiana Democrats with some nasty challenges. First, Holcomb was the legislative point man for the successful administration of former Gov. Mitch Daniels. Daniels left office with record high approval ratings and Holcomb deserves some of the credit for helping to usher in needed changes in education, government efficiency, taxation and infrastructure. Second, Holcomb served as chief of staff for Sen. Dan Coats. In that capacity, Holcomb traveled to every nook and cranny in the Hoosier State. He has an excellent grasp of the issues most important to Hoosiers and has promised to focus his efforts as governor on continuing the significant progress made in education, jobs and economic development.  
    
Indiana citizens will be able to trust that the emphasis of a Holcomb Administration will be on core issues that unite us as a people. Finally, Eric Holcomb is an immensely likable candidate. Sit four Democrats down with Holcomb at a small town diner and you’ll end up with four Democrats voting for him. He is honest, genuine and exudes all of the characteristics that we like to see in our Hoosier elected officials.
    
It is by no accident that the Indiana Republican Party has rightfully become known as the party of ideas. Bold creative ideas and leadership has characterized Indiana Republicans for the past 12 years. When contrasted with the past wasteful, tax-and-spend, deficit-bloated and inefficient Democrat administrations and legislature, Indiana citizens will be very reluctant to return to the failed policies and management of the past. With a fiscally healthy state government, a booming economy and the momentum of nationally recognized successes, Eric Holcomb will be a formidable governor candidate and disrupt the trite Democratic strategy of “Pence Must Go.”
    
I can close my eyes and envision a Citizen Kane-like moment when John Gregg awakens from his nightmarish sleep, soaked in sweat and utters repeatedly, “Holcomb, Holcomb, Holcomb!” Eric Holcomb is the real deal and will keep Republican-led progress in the Indiana Statehouse.

Dunn is chairman of the Howard County Republican Party.