Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Politics of Pence's First Six Months in Office

Governor Mike Pence
My friend, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, pointed out that Governor Mike Pence is sneaking up on a milestone.

The Governor has been in office now nearly six months, and he's had an opportunity to lead the state through its first General Assembly session.  The results, however, have not been likely what the Governor wants when and if he tries to run for President.

Like his legislative record back in Congress, Pence can't really point to too many things and say, "Yeah, I did that."  He's basically just kept the lights on and the engine running, but he has demonstrated a great lack of political skill especially compared to that of his predecessor.

Pence's latest flub was the Pencership scandal that really could have been avoided if he had just resisted the urge to keep his mouth shut.  The Indiana Constitution requires a potential amendment to pass through two separately-elected General Assemblies.  The first time the potential ban on anything but straight marriage amendment passed was 2011.  The resolution did not come up for a vote in 2013.  That means that 2014 is the last opportunity the amendment will have to go through.  If it passes, and it likely will, the amendment goes directly to the voters.  It never crosses Pence's desk.

Given this set of circumstances, Mitch Daniels might have released a statement, but he probably wouldn't have taken a side especially in the wake of what just happened with DOMA.  Daniels would have likely said something like "I have great faith that the General Assembly will give this matter great consideration and, if it reaches the voters, they will as well."

Pence didn't say that.  Pence went all in.  In doing so, he set the great Pencership scandal in motion by posting his statement on Facebook.  Then, all heck broke loose.  While he apologized, some report that Pence's staff is continuing to practice Pencership his official government Facebook page.

I think Pence is still used to being one of 435.  He's not used to being the one.  His immaturity as an executive showed earlier this year when he announced his income tax cut without consulting anyone in the General Assembly.  That's fine and all, but it was clear that no one had a discussion how to make each other look good in that situation.  In the end, it came out as the Governor vs. his own General Assembly.  Democrats rejoiced, but Republicans didn't.  In the end, Pence got a very small portion of what he wanted.

Pence did get some low hanging fruit things through the General Assembly.  With state revenues blowing his direction, he got more public school funding.  He also got his vocational educational program through.  These, however, were mitigated by his head fake on Greg Ballard's Power Grab Bill and the veto that was overturned for some local level taxes in Jackson and Pulaski Counties in Indiana.  Quite the place to stand and fight.

Eric Holcomb may have seen the writing on the wall.  Holcomb and what had been a very successful GOP leadership team exited a couple of weeks back.  Rumors out there say that Pence is looking at some high-level Washington-connected Hoosiers for the slot.  Those Hoosiers have experience in national campaigns.

I wouldn't quite book that flight yet for Iowa.  Mike Pence's performance in his first six months in office has been barely passable.  Pence came to office to focus on jobs and the economy, and it's hard to say he's done either.

At least we know where he stands on same sex marriage.

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