By PAIGE CLARK
Democrats pledged to balance the power of the Statehouse as the party of common sense their state convention.
"The governor is shaking in his boots wondering what those Democrats are doing right now," said Maggie Lewis, president of the city-county council in Indianapolis. "Yes, we are meeting. Yes, we have a plan. And yes we will take control of the state of Indiana again."
Most of the focus Saturday was on the 2014 election, in which voters will pick three statewide offices and 125 legislators. But Democrats were looking ahead as well.
John Gregg, the 2012 Democratic gubernatorial candidate who lost to Republican Gov. Mike Pence, carried a suitcase on stage that he held up for the crowd. He said Pence - who has said he's considering whether to run for president - "has been everywhere but Indiana and Hoosiers have been footing the bill."
Then - as he looked down at the many Democrats wearing mustache stickers, the logo of his last campaign - Gregg all but confirmed he would run for governor again in 2016. The Sandborn native said he looked forward to working with Democrats until the 2014 Election Day "and beyond" - and then he offered the cheering crowd a big, exaggerated wink.
The Indiana Republican Party will hold its state convention next week in Fort Wayne.
Gregg and other Democratic speakers on Saturday mocked what they called "do-nothing Republicans" for approving corporate tax breaks, supporting a constitutional ban on gay marriage, and opposition to a minimum wage hike.
"Families struggling to make ends meet, because our nation has not embraced higher minimum wage for all people," said U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, D-7th District. "Men and women literally losing their homes, no fault of their own; veterans, sleeping on our streets, unable to access to central medical care; children, unable to access quality schools just because they were born on the wrong side of town."
Democrats said they "can do better" and nominated Mike Boland for state treasurer, Mike Claytor for auditor, and Beth White for secretary of state - the three statewide contests on the ballot this November.
Gregg nominated the candidate for auditor, calling him Mike "Calculator" Claytor, who had been his campaign's financial advisor. Claytor took the stage and congratulated the crowd for nominating the first ever certified public accountant as a nominee for the post.
"We need to move a little further than that. I want to be the first CPA elected auditor in the state of Indiana," Claytor said. "I own a calculator and I know how to use it."
Claytor said the state auditor needs to be a watchdog over the governor's spending and not grant free access to the state's checkbook.
Boland spoke out against the Republican-led passage of tax cuts for corporations.
"It's time we Democrats started taking Indiana back," he said. "I'm running because now is the time we have a state government that operates for all the people, not just a few."
Boland said he will advocate for more wind energy in Indiana, create better retirement opportunities for all Hoosiers, and bring an idea over from his native Illinois - a lottery ticket that sends proceeds to veterans services.
White started her speech by acknowledging that a previous Republican secretary of state, Charlie White - who resigned after being convicted of voter fraud - is "no kin" to her.
White said that Indiana has some of the strictest voting laws in the nations, and is ranked 48th out of 50 for least voter participation.
Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said Indiana's laws are so strict because Republicans are "scared when people vote, because they vote for Democrats."
White said she would "roll up her sleeves" and get to work trying to register more voters and increase voter participation in the state.
"Once again we have a historic opportunity to build a lasting movement to lead our great state, and it starts now. We're the party that solves real problem for real people that live in the world today," said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City. "All we ask is that you believe Indiana can and must be better. We can and we will."
Paige Clark is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.