What a Pence-Trump Ticket Means

There are implications not only for the presidential race but the Indiana governor's election as well.
by | July 14, 2016

*Last Updated July 18, 2016 at 6:54 a.m.

Ending the rumors and speculation, Donald Trump announced on Friday that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will be his running mate.

Pence will bring some obvious strengths to the ticket, as a prominent social conservative who's spent time navigating the Washington waters as a member of Congress. The industrial Midwest also just happens to offer Trump his best opportunity for upending the Electoral College map.

But Pence isn't especially popular at home. He has an approval rating in the low 40s, partly because of his poor handling of a gay rights controversy last year. He had been struggling in polls against Democrat John Gregg, a former state House speaker.

His promotion, however, puts Indiana Republicans on the hunt for a new gubernatorial candidate. The list of potential replacement candidates already being mentioned (or mentioning themselves) includes Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks and Todd Rokita, and state House Speaker Brian Bosma.

There will be an awful lot of jockeying to be picked as Pence's replacement by the state GOP committee. After all, the person selected will almost certainly become governor.

Gregg and other critics had been using Pence's attempts to climb aboard the Trump train, saying it showed he puts his own career ahead of Indiana's needs.

"His flirtation with the developer-turned-reality TV star-turned-politician is just the latest in a long series of actions that have made clear Pence's inability or unwillingness to focus on and adjust to the role of governor," wrote columnist Matthew Tully in the Indianapolis Star.

Indiana voters, though, are used to their prominent politicians being considered as running mates and kind of like the idea, said Ed Feigenbaum, editor of Indiana Legislative Insight, a political newsletter.

Indiana GOP Sen. Dan Quayle was elected vice president in 1988, and Evan Bayh, a Democratic former governor and senator was looked at by both John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008.

"There's a little bit of state pride in having a candidate be considered for vice president -- regardless of whether it's a Democrat or Republican," said Feigenbaum.