Candidates for governor hit on Sunday alcohol sales, medical marijuana in last debate

Final gubernatorial debate
3rd Indiana Gov. debate

EVANSVILLE (WTHR) - The three men on the ballot for Indiana governor met Tuesday for their third and final debate.

Democrat John Gregg, Republican Eric Holcomb and Libertarian Rex Bell talked about health and social issues, while giving a last big push to win your vote.

The debate in Evansville aimed to focus on health issues. It did and then some, but the biggest issues involved choices confronting many Hoosiers.

They covered a variety of topics ranging from Sunday sales of alcohol:

"I have always maintained anything that is legal on Saturday should be legal on Sunday," Libertarian Rex Bell explained.

"I think if the legislature sent me a bill to allow Sunday sales I would very likely sign it," Democrat John Gregg declared.

"I do not favor it. I think alcohol is still a legally controlled substance in Indiana and we need to make sure we can do that," Republican Lt Governor Eric Holcomb stated.

That set the stage for a question about the use of medical marijuana in extreme cases involving children.

"If only medical marijuana could suffice, I would entertain that as an option, but right now in the world we are living in, expanding or legalizing drugs is not on my list," Holcomb rationalized.

"I would support medical marijuana. I think if it is a benefit to a patient they should be allowed to use it," Gregg countered.

The candidates were also asked about their stance on abortion.

"I have always considered myself a pro-life Democrat. That said, I do not believe it is my business to interject myself into a relationship between a woman and her physician. I don't believe lawmakers should practice medicine," Gregg said.

"I am pro-life. Understand this debate has been going on for decades and good people on both sides, but I don't believe I personally have the right to take another innocent person's life," Holcomb countered.

This may have been the last head-to-head debate for these three, but Democrat John Gregg and Republican Eric Holcomb will be joining Eyewitness News political reporter for one-on-one discussions about the race for governor this weekend on Indiana Insiders. It will be a special half-hour edition beginning at 9:30 Sunday morning.

Previous story from the Associated Press:

The final Indiana gubernatorial debate included some more genial moments after weeks of contentious campaigning.

Republican candidate Eric Holcomb closed Tuesday night's debate by saying he would strive to be the state's most accessible governor.

Democrat John Gregg said he would be a uniter and never embarrass the people of the state.

Those statements came a short time after the debate moderator mixed up the candidates, prompting Gregg to joke that they've spent $10 million so that people know who's who.

Gregg cracked that he's the tall one, while Holcomb stands several inches taller. Holcomb replied, "I'm the hair-challenged one" next to the bald Gregg. They then traded a semi high-five/fist bump.


7:40 p.m.

The Indiana gubernatorial candidates say the state should do more to attack the abuse of heroin and other drugs.

Democrat John Gregg said during Tuesday's gubernatorial debate that drug abuse needs to be treated as a medical issue. Gregg says the state can see long-term savings by spending on rehabilitation programs rather than sending abusers to jail or prison.

Republican candidate Eric Holcomb says drug abuse is strangling many communities and that prevention and treatment programs must be priorities. Holcomb says he would support broadening needle-exchange programs and making state money available for counties to operate such programs.

A law allowing counties to request state approval for needle exchanges was approved last year in response to an HIV outbreak in southern Indiana's Scott County.


5:30 a.m.

Republican Eric Holcomb and Democrat John Gregg are set for a final televised debate as they go into the last two weeks of their contentious campaign for the Indiana governor's office.

The hourlong debate begins at 7 p.m. EDT Tuesday at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. They'll be joined by Libertarian candidate Rex Bell, and the nonprofit Indiana Debate Commission says several television and radio stations will broadcast the debate.

Holcomb replaced Gov. Mike Pence as the Republican nominee in July. Holcomb rarely mentions Pence's name while campaigning, but says he'll focus on what he calls the state's progress under the past 12 years of Republican governors.

Gregg has tried to label Holcomb as a Pence rubber stamp who supported him on matters such as Indiana's religious-objections law.