Indiana candidates for governor square off in final debate

Left to right: John Gregg, Eric Holcomb and Rex Bell.

Left to right: John Gregg, Eric Holcomb and Rex Bell.

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.

The hourlong debate aired at 7 p.m. Tuesday and took place at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. They were joined by Libertarian candidate Rex Bell.

Holcomb replaced Gov. Mike Pence as the Republican nominee in July. Holcomb rarely mentions Pence’s name while campaigning, but focusues 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.

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