Former House speaker and 2012 gubernatorial nominee John Gregg is ruling out a second run in 2016.
Former House speaker and 2012 gubernatorial nominee John Gregg is ruling out a second run in 2016.
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

NASHVILLE, Ind. - Democrat John Gregg has ruled out a second run for governor in 2016.

"I have decided that I am not actively seeking the governorship at this time," said Gregg, the former House speaker and 2012 Democratic nominee who came within 2.7% of upsetting Gov. Mike Pence last November.

Gregg said that current Southern District federal Attorney Joe Hogsett, former Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson - his 2012 running mate - former congressman Baron Hill, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight and Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski along with State Reps. Terri Austin and House Minority Leader Scott Pelath would all be good potential candidates. Other Democrats who will look at the race could be Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., and former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.

Gregg added that he's spoken to former governor and U.S. Senator Evan Bayh in the last few days, but said that Bayh has not indicated a desire to seek a third term. Bayh served as governor from 1989 to 1997. "He didn't bring it up and I didn't ask him," Gregg said of his conversation with Bayh. "I keep hearing people say that, but if I saw Evan doing anything it would be running for the Senate, or it would be helping Hillary Clinton if she runs for president. He's very close with the Clintons."

The former speaker said that as he has traveled the state this year, "The rank and file all ask about Joe Hogsett. He has an unbelievable following with Democrats all across the state."

Hogsett ran Bayh's first gubernatorial campaign, won the secretary of state race in 1990 by upsetting Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut, then lost a congressional and attorney general race. Hogsett was nominated for Southern District attorney by President Obama and has been aggressive in prosecuting political corruption, drug and organized crime.

Gregg added that he felt that Baron Hill "might be interested."

Gregg said that he is "convinced" that if he ran again, he could have gotten the nomination. But, he said, he was reluctant to begin the fundraising process now. He said a number of labor organizations had been contacting him about donations to a second gubernatorial campaign. "Labor has been calling, but there are other things I want to do," the Sandborn Democrat said. "I was the first speaker in 80 years to just walk away. I'm enjoying my law practice and being down on the farm."

Gregg said the Democrat Party's prospects for 2016 are good, but said that winning the Indianapolis mayoral race in 2015 will be important. "To win the governor's office, we have to have that mayor's seat in Indianapolis."

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