Gubernatorial candidate Gregg to speak at party dinner

GREENFIELD — There are no Hancock County Democrats on this fall’s municipal election ballot, but party leaders said they’re already gearing up for 2016 and beyond.

The party’s annual Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner is scheduled for Sept. 21, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg is slated to be the keynote speaker. Organizers said they hope Gregg’s presence in Greenfield gets the party excited for the future.

Gregg, who served 16 years in the Indiana House of Representatives, including six as speaker, is poised to run for governor for a second time against Gov. Mike Pence, who narrowly beat Gregg in the 2012 election.

Currently, he’s the only Democrat running for governor after State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, withdrew from the race last month.

Local Democrats say they’re thrilled to have Gregg, who spoke at the dinner three years ago, as the speaker, especially as the race for governor heats up.

“We want the best,” said Phil Hunt, party chairman. “We want everybody to have the opportunity to meet John and to encourage him. We want to do whatever we can to help get John Gregg elected.”

The Jefferson Jackson Day dinner is the largest event the Hancock County Democratic Party hosts each year, and it doubles as the party’s biggest fundraiser. Funds raised help support the party and its candidates, Hunt said.

The dinner also serves as a time for the party to rally together and support those seeking office. Although there are no local Democrats on the fall municipal election ballot, Hunt said, he hopes this year’s party will energize the party for 2016, when voters will elect a president, governor and other state and federal officeholders.

Even though the 2016 election is more than a year away, Hunt said, it’s never too early to get the party members enthused and to meet those seeking office.

Party leaders expect other 2016 candidates, including U.S. Senate candidate John Dickerson, to attend the dinner.

“We’re just looking forward to 2016; we hope to make an impact in 2016,” Hunt said. “Golly, you’d think (the 2016 election) is this November instead of a year from now with all the excitement.”

Randy Johnson, a member of the Democratic Party who moved to Greenfield about a year ago, said he’s happy to help organize the dinner and looks forward to seeing the impact Democrats can make locally and at the state level in the coming months.

The dinner, though not large, will give county Democrats a chance to come together, which is important as they gear up for next year, he said. Johnson said he’s excited to hear Gregg speak and hopes his speech and presence at the dinner with help rev up the Democratic Party in Hancock County. He expects local leaders in the party will build on Gregg’s enthusiasm as he talks about the race and plans if elected.

“He’s going to want every vote, so he’s going to be helping Hancock County get energized, and that’s exciting,” Johnson said.

A social hour begins at 6 p.m. Sept. 21 at the NineStar Connect Conference Center in Greenfield. Tickets are $30 per person and can be purchased through Hunt by calling 317-753-4337.

Gregg could not be reached for comment.

If you go

The Hancock Count Democratic Party Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner is scheduled for Sept. 21 with gubernatorial candidate John Gregg slated as the keynote speaker.

There is a limited number of tickets for the event, and they cost $30 per person. They can be purchased by contacting party chairman Phil Hunt at 317-439-9872 or

A social hour begins at 6 p.m. at NineStar Connect, 2243 E Main St., Greenfield.

Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or