Donald Trump Has Picked Governor Pence, What Happens Now in Indiana?

Donald Trump just tweeted that he will select Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his Vice Presidential running mate. Unlike other states, Indiana does not allow a person to be a candidate for both Governor and Vice President on the same ballot, so Governor Pence cannot run for re-election and as the Vice Presidential nominee. So what happens now?

Governor Pence must withdraw his name as a candidate for Governor by Noon today or his name would not be allowed to be placed on the ballot for Vice President.

  • The Republican State Committee will have up to 30 days to select a new candidate to run as the Republican nominee for Governor. No primary or broad state party convention is necessary.
  • Once the Committee has identified all the candidates they will consider, state law requires the Committee to give 10 days’ notice before it votes. So, even if the Committee decides early next week to start that process, it will be two weeks before we know who the new nominee will be.
  • So who might be the new GOP candidate for Governor?
    • Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb. Holcomb was just appointed to the position of Lt. Governor in March of 2016 to fill the position when Sue Ellspermann resigned. Holcomb was a longtime advisor to Governor Mitch Daniels, both politically and in official capacities, including Deputy Chief of Staff. He has also served as the chairman of the state Republican Party. Before being appointed Lt. Governor, he was campaigning for retiring US Senator Dan Coats’ open seat.
    • Speaker Brian Bosma. He has served in the state House since 1986 and has served four terms as Speaker, first from 2004 to 2006 when Democrats gained control of the House, and then after the 2010 elections when Republicans retook control.
    • U.S. Representative Todd Rokita. Rokita has represented the 4th congressional district since 2011 and previously served as Secretary of State for 8 years winning statewide elections in 2002 and 2006. He was the youngest Secretary of State when he assumed office at 32 years of age.
    • U.S. Representative Susan Brooks. Brooks has represented the 5th congressional district since 2013. Prior to that, she was Vice President and General Counsel at Ivy Tech Community College. In 2001, she was appointed by President George W. Bush as U.S. Attorney for Indiana’s Southern District, serving for six years.
    • One name we are unlikely to see as a replacement for Governor Pence is Mitch Daniels, who publicly withdrew his name yesterday. The former Governor and current Purdue University president saw a nascent “Draft Mitch” campaign start and he wanted to stop it before it could gather any momentum.

There are probably some very urgent discussions occurring between the above individuals, their political advisers and members of the Republican State Committee. Not only does state law require that Governor Pence to withdraw his name as a candidate for Governor to be eligible to run for Vice President, the same rule applies to all of the office holders above. If they want to be eligible to be nominated to run for Governor, they will have to withdraw their names from running for re-election for their current seats. Therefore, only the candidates that think they may have the votes from the committee are likely to withdraw. Hence the urgent discussions that are likely occurring right now among the Committee and these candidates.

While this mad scramble is putting many campaigns in flux in the short term, some Republican officials in Indiana believe this change may actually help Republicans retain this Governor’s Office. There are organized anti-Pence forces that have been campaigning to defeat Governor Pence rather than touting the Democratic opponent, former House Speaker John Gregg. But if Governor Pence won’t be running, voters in this Republican leaning state will start fresh and the anti-Pence ads that have run will become meaningless.

There will be a lot more clarity when today’s noon deadline passes and we know who has – and who has not – withdrawn from their re-election races.

UPDATE 3:00 PM FRIDAY, July 15

Speaker Bosma did not withdraw from his House race by noon, so he is out of the running. Lt. Governor Holcomb, Representative Rokita and Representative Brooks each withdrew from the re-election races, so they will be competing for the State Republican Committee nomination. Indiana law will allow the unsuccessful candidates to be named back to their races to fill those vacancies, so they are not permanently giving up their re-election chances if they do not receive the gubernatorial nomination.