Monday, April 4, 2016

Pence's Mess Only Makes Him Vulnerable

Governor Mike Pence
Some Democrats seem to believe that a John Gregg win is a foregone conclusion in November.

Let's put it this way, if this were Jenga, Mike Pence's tower is riddled with single blocks down low and is listing severely.  It's still standing though.

Pence has managed to be the worst Governor of my lifetime (40 years).  Despite a reasonably good set of indicators (surplus, good state credit rating, lower unemployment, etc.), he remains incredibly unpopular because he cannot help himself when it comes to making the wrong political moves.

It's like watching Chevy Chase run into the loose attic boards in Christmas Vacation.  Each way he turns, Governor Pence keeps stepping the wrong way and smacking himself in the face with a two-by-four.  It would be hilarious...if he weren't our Governor.

Pence's first mistake was believing he had a mandate.  Hoosiers, if you remember correctly, elected Pence with under 50 percent of the vote.  The Governor squandered a double-digit polling lead a month before the election and eeked out one of the closest victories in recent memory in 2012 against Gregg.  He wasn't popular to begin with at all.

He screwed up further early in his administration by failing to communicate with legislative leaders and having much of his first-year agenda either changed or blown up by Brian Bosma and David Long.

Then came the RFRA debacle.  Instead of just state disdain, the nation suddenly saw what a fool idiot Pence was politically.  His national interview with George Stephanopolous was an unmitigated disaster, and, as pressure mounted, he was forced to back up again.  While Pence had lost independents, he had not lost those in his base who believed RFRA was the right thing for the state...until he tried to fix RFRA alienating those right wingers out there.  On top of everything, he refused to tell anyone his stance on protecting LGBT rights for months before making it clear that he has no intention of doing anything for the community.

Now comes the draconian bill designed to sanction doctors performing abortions for reasons such as the race, sex, or possible disability of the fetus goes even deeper.  Controversially, the bill also requires aborted or miscarried fetuses to be interred or cremated.  Even if you agree with some of the bill, you have to see where it is another example of government overreach.  There are very legitimate reasons a woman may elect to not carry a fetus to term, but this new bill limits a woman's right to choose what happens with her own body.

While the bill was drafted and passed by the General Assembly, it was championed and signed by Governor Pence.  Now, in protest, women are calling the Governor's Office and reporting their periods as part of the "Periods for Pence" protest.  Click the link to read more about that.

With other messes like his failed "Just In" state-run media house, his Pencership controversy, and the handling of the dismissal of Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellsperman, Pence is damaged goods.  He is limping, politically, and he would seem to be in trouble.

John Gregg
While he's in trouble, he's still hanging on.  He's the incumbent, and I would propose that while it might be easier to topple Pence than other Republicans, John Gregg is still faced with a tough job.  Pence is going to get a lot of money to help in his cause.  He's already raised a lot, and Republicans will raise more.  November is also a long way away, and I'm not convinced everyone is plugged in yet to the Governor's race.  On top of this, the Libertarians are also fielding either Rex Bell or Jim Wallace...both of which should not be taken lightly as candidates.

Gregg will have to continue to work his mustache off.  In the end, while Republicans are likely to continue to hold serve in the General Assembly, the power of the Executive Order for Gregg will be great.

Recently, Gregg said he's modeling himself politically in the mold of Mitch Daniels.  While he was attacked by some for saying it, he has a point.  Daniels was FAR SMARTER politically than Governor Pence.  He understood that while Indiana is a very conservative state that Hoosiers tend to be much more common sense than some believe.  Hoosiers don't take kindly to blind ideology.

For the most part, Daniels steered clear of the pitfalls Pence has stepped directly into, and it served him well as Governor.  While I don't disagree with much Daniels did, the Pence Administration has made me at least long for the days when the Indiana Governor was smart enough to know which political fights to pick and leave alone.

Every Indiana Governor in my lifetime up until now has been smart enough to do that.  Otis Bowen, Robert Orr, Evan Bayh, Frank O'Bannon, Joe Kernan, and Mitch Daniels all look like gubernatorial geniuses compared to Pence.

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