Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pence To Begin Term in Indiana Cold

Will Pence ride in on a horse or roll up
in his red pickup?
Governor-Elect Mike Pence announced that he will hold his inauguration outdoors on January 14.  What he does for the next four years will certainly determine his political future in 2016.

You would figure that Pence would have the political wind at his back.  After all, Mitt Romney was an easy winner in Indiana.  Pence will have 70 Republicans in the Indiana House and 37 Republicans in the Indiana Senate.  It should be a breeze to get his agenda through and on to the Presidency in 2016.  As Lee Corso, ESPN's college football analyst often says, "Not so fast, my friend."

Pence didn't receive a majority of the votes for Governor.  He was just a few tenths of a percentage point short of 50 percent, and he saw his huge lead squandered by a lackluster response to an aggressive John Gregg over the last few weeks of the campaign.  A double-digit poll lead became a three-percentage point win on election night.  This was, again, during an election where Republicans gained seats in the Indiana House and had their Presidential candidate carry the state by a wide margin.

It's going to be a tightrope of sorts for Pence, and I'm not sure he's politically savvy enough to walk it.  Governor Daniels was.  Until the last few weeks when he has suddenly become noticeably more defensive and bitter, Governor Daniels pushed for truces on social issues and tried to focus on economic issues like state surpluses and tax relief.  Daniels was also good enough to make people buy what he was doing.  He didn't say he was balancing the budget on the the backs of the schools and the local governments, but that's what he did.  The electorate bought it.

Pence can't be that savvy, in my view.  He is, famously, "Christian, Conservative, and Republican, in that order" by his own words.  It will be interesting to see if he keeps himself in the middle of the road or if he will be pulled to the right by the Christian conservatives or pulled to the right by the Tea Party.  If he gets pulled to the right by both interests, he may find himself out of step with the 2016 Republican Party which likely will be much more moderate than it is today.

Furthermore, there's this issue of having all the power in one's hands.  Sometimes having all the branches of government held by one party works against you.  When you don't get the results you want from your agenda, you can't point fingers or place blame.  It's all on you.  Even though the Governor of Indiana is a weak executive compared to other governors (it only takes a majority vote in the General Assembly to override a veto), the politician in the Governor's Office is seen as the leader.  Revolts can have dire consequences, especially when the opponent and the opposition is palatable to the revolutionaries.

I don't think it's going to be an easy four years for Mike Pence.  He's not going to just say he was a hardworking Governor; he's going to have to put the proof in the pudding.  It all starts January 14.


Paul K. Ogden said...

I think you're going to be very surprised by Pence. He's a very personable individual and more open-minded than what you're thinking he is. I think there are facets where Pence can actually improve on what Daniels did, particularly in the area of administration. But Pence needs to appoint a strong team to do that, people who are offer strong oversight over the bureaucracy and give him honest advice.

Doug Meagher said...

Open-minded? To quote Big Daddy, "Bull!"

The fool postulates that bolstering traditional families is the key to Indiana's economic development and, to make sure that his meaning was clearly understood, later clarifies that he intended the statement to be anti-gay. I guess me and my partner of 32 years better leave Indiana so that we don't continue harming the economic vitality of our home State.

Anonymous said...

Paul, you are correct. I will be surprised if any thing you said about Pence comes true. I don't think he can let loose of Bible and his Tea Party membership card long enough to be open minded.