Indiana Insiders preview governor debate

John Gregg (D)
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The candidates running for Indiana governor are set to face off Wednesday night in the first of three debates.

Eyewitness News asked our Indiana Insiders what their candidates need to do to make a lasting impression on Indiana voters.

WTHR candidate survey - See how the candidates stand on key issues.

Republican Mike Pence has been enjoying strong poll numbers. (The most recent poll numbers put Pence ahead at 47-34 percent.) Peter Rusthoven, WTHR's Republican analyst, says Pence just needs to keep doing what he's been doing.

"The main thing Mike Pence needs to do is what he's been doing all along, with is continue to be himself - an intelligent, thoughtful, friendly man who wants to build on the foundation created by Mitch Daniels and continue this state on a path towards lower taxes, less regulations and more growth," Rusthoven said.

WTHR Democratic analyst Robin Winston said Democrat John Gregg needs to get away from his small-town campaign ads and emphasize his professional experience.

"He's got to prove that he can be bipartisan in his management. Odds are that he's gonna have a Republican state Senate; we don't know how the House is gonna go and it's still a Republican-leaning state in many respects. He can do that because when he was speaker, the House was 50 Democrats, 50 Republicans and even when he became speaker in his own right, the margin was not a big margin," Winston said. "He needs to let them know he's been president of Vincennes University, that he's worked in the energy industry, and that he's been a successful lawyer. They don't know that about him. He needs to talk about that."

Rusthoven expects Pence to bring up taxes.

"One of the key things businesses look at in terms of whether they can hire more employees or businesses from outside the state think about whether they can locate in Indiana - is what is the cost of doing business? The key factor of that is what are the taxes in that state? Every dime taken away in taxes is a dime taken away from ability to pay employees, ability to invest in the future, ability to expand your plant and hire more people. Gov. Daniels has done a fabulous job of taking us out of a net deficit situation and building us into a surplus situation where the economy is doing really, really very well, particularly considering how the economy is doing nationally. Pence wants to build on this and this is both a matter of common sense and a matter of Mike's convictions of how the world works," he said.

Gregg, meantime, needs to show how he's different from Pence, Winston said.

"I think you have to talk about the fact that Congress' approval rating is at an all-time low and that Mike has been in Congress since 2000. John's gotta bring those two points together," Winston added.

Rusthoven wants to see Pence maintain a positive tone while sticking to his key issues.

"We trust individual freedom. We trust enterprise. We don't trust government to sit around and make all these decisions for us," Rusthoven said, explaining Pence's views.

Libertarian Rupert Boneham is also running for the governor's seat. See his position on key issues here.