Pharos-Tribune

Columns

May 28, 2014

KITCHELL: Pence not a silver bullet, but in the arsenal

We’re T-minus two years and about six months away from the presidential election and the candidate names are being vetted.

Among the contenders in the GOP field are the two most likely nominees, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has been mentioned as a possible contender in some circles, and if you have caught some of his most recent speeches, you’ll sense maybe a bit of posturing that would position him to be in the mix of names for a No. 2 slot on the ballot.

While it is unlikely that Pence would make the ballot as a first-term governor, there are several factors to consider about his attractiveness as a candidate.

The first is that 2016 is also a year when the Indiana governor’s race will be on the ballot, which means if he accepts the No. 2 slot on the Republiccan ballot he’ll be stepping down as governor and leaving the GOP a bit exposed in Indiana. If he is serious about running for president in 2016, that likely means he’ll drop out of the running for governor early, particularly if former Sen. Evan Bayh seeks the governor’s office again. That however presumes Bayh won’t be in the mix for vice president if Hillary Clinton runs, and indications are that she will.

As for Pence, some of the factors in play are his record as governor and what a Paul or Christie would need in a running mate. It’s unlikely Paul would pick a running mate from a neighboring state, but it would make sense for him to pick a governor and it would provide a balance that Bill Clinton and Al Gore had when they won in both 1992 and 1996.

It would seem to make more sense for Christie to pick Pence because Christie would presumably be able to carry a Democratic state on the East Coast, but would need help in the Midwest. The South is almost solidly Republican, and if Christie picks up his own state, Ohio and a few Midwest states, he should be able to carry the day.

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