Brian Howey, publisher of Howey Politics Indiana, said Ellspermann is engaging in smart politics. “In this era of gridlock, taking the listening concept into communities across the state will serve the Pence administration well. People want to feel they are being heard. They want to know that their leaders in Indianapolis know their concerns, fears and aspirations,” Howey said.
The tour may also serve Ellspermann well in the future, Howey said. He pointed to two former lieutenant governors, Republican Robert Orr and Democrat Frank O’Bannon, who crisscrossed the state during their tenures, developing contacts, making jobs announcements, and building strong networks of support. Both successfully capitalized on those experiences when they later decided to run for governor.
“These types of tours will help Lt. Gov. Ellspermann if she is ambitious and wants to break Indiana’s ultimate political glass ceiling and become Indiana’s first female governor,” Howey said.
Ellspermann downplays that possibility, saying the purpose of the tour is to help her and the governor shape policy in a way that will counter the feeling among local communities that the state is “doing something to them, not with them.”
“We’re only in our first year,” Ellspermann said, of why the tour seems to be going so well. “I’m listening, not defending. In this first year, I can do that pretty much do that. Down the road it will be harder not to defend why we did this or why we did that.”
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org