Before speech, Democrat rival attacks Gov. Mike Pence for antigay stance

Before speech, Democrat rival attacks Gov. Mike Pence for antigay stance

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Mike Pence is still hours away from delivering his fourth State of the State address, but already the campaign for his Democratic rival John Gregg is attacking.

Gregg campaign manager Tim Henderson says Pence has been a “national embarrassment” for Indiana.

He points to Pence’s refusal to offer a position on extending civil rights protections to gay people, and Pence’s support for education changes that led to the state’s ISTEP test troubles. And he said Pence has failed to properly fund state government agencies in ways that have put vulnerable people at higher risks.

Indiana Republican Party spokesman Robert Vane disputed Henderson’s remarks about Pence. He says Democrats are too quick to dismiss the state’s 4.4 unemployment rate and $2 billion budget surplus.

Pence will address a joint audience of both chambers of the Legislature on Tuesday evening.

The speech offers a chance to turn the corner after a tumultuous year during which his policies drew negative attention to the state, most notably his support for a religious objections law that critics say sanctioned discrimination against gay people.

With an eye to his re-election bid, Pence will likely focus on job creation, an improving economy and low unemployment numbers. But he could also break his silence on the possible extension of civil rights protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

So far he has not taken a position on the matter.

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