“Embracing” Mike Pence

Indiana’s political version of musical chairs has now resolved itself into a ballot that offers Hoosiers some unanticipated choices.

Who would have predicted a re-entry of Evan Bayh into Hoosier electoral politics? Who would have imagined Mike Pence on the Trump Train? And who, exactly, is Eric Holcomb, our sudden candidate for Governor?

Holcomb, who spent something like three months as Pence’s chosen Lieutenant Governor, after the departure of Sue Ellspermann (the only woman and arguably only competent member of the Administration) has emerged as our new and improbable candidate for Governor. As part of his introduction to the Hoosier electorate, Holcomb has told media outlets that he intends to “embrace” Mike Pence’s record. Holcomb has also been quoted as saying that he is “quite proud” of Pence’s tenure, and “proud of where the state is now.”

Holcomb has thus tied himself firmly to a record that many of us predicted would elect John Gregg in November.

I can’t help wondering just how completely Holcomb really “embraces” the particulars of Pence’s record. Does Holcomb share Pence’s “culture war” goals, for example? If so, which ones?

No sane candidate is likely to promote passage of another RFRA, given the civic and economic damage caused by that unforced error, but what about adding “four words and a comma” to Indiana’s civil rights law, and protecting LGBTQ Hoosiers from being discriminated against simply because of who they are? Governor Pence adamantly opposed civil rights protections for Indiana’s gay citizens. Does Holcomb “embrace” that opposition?

And which of Governor Pence’s approaches to pre-school funding does Holcomb “embrace”—his original decision to decline an 80 million dollar grant that would have created a statewide preschool program, or the U-turn he took on that issue this year, when his original decision turned out to be politically damaging?

Speaking of education, if Glenda Ritz is re-elected as Superintendent of Public Instruction, is Holcomb prepared to let her do her job, or will he “embrace” Pence’s constant efforts to strip her of authority over the state’s educational policies? Will he “embrace” and continue Pence’s practice of diverting funds from Indiana’s public schools in order to finance the nation’s most extensive voucher program–a program that largely benefits religious schools—even though a recent Brookings Institution study confirmed that voucher students’ reading and math scores were significantly lower than the scores of similar students who remained in public schools?

Does candidate Holcomb “embrace” Pence’s continuing war on Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights? Did he support the bill the Governor so eagerly signed—subsequently struck down by a federal court—that, among other indignities, required women to conduct funerals for their aborted or miscarried fetuses?

Does Holcomb “embrace” and plan to continue Pence’s efforts to keep organizations like Catholic Charities and Exodus from resettling Syrian refugees in Indiana? Is he “proud” of this mean-spirited retreat from “Hoosier Hospitality”?

What about Indiana’s crumbling infrastructure? Is Holcomb “proud” of the condition of Indiana’s roads and bridges? And what about economic development? Is Holcomb “proud” that the majority of new jobs Pence brags about pay less than a living wage?

I can’t wait to hear just how far Holcomb’s “embrace” extends.


  1. Of course Holcomb is “embracing” the Pence record. He doesn’t have any original ideas about leading the state himself. You’ve got to love the Republicans. One loser after another.

  2. Theresa,

    “You’ve got to love the Republicans. One loser after another.”

    There is an advantage to all of that. It’s like bowling. If you hit the HEAD PIN just right, all the other pins will fall.

  3. The term “no sane candidate” is the only explanation needed regarding Holcomb’s – or anyone’s – “Embracing” Mike Pence. The “Pence Must Go” signs still abound here for reasons that need no explanation; he must not only be gone from the state of Indiana but from the political scene in toto before they are removed.

    The current GOP system in Indiana, as in other red states, is lacking in sane sitting officials as well as candidates, all of whom have lost touch with the needs as well as the values of their constituents. We can only hope that at least some of those staunch Republicans have 20-20 vision as to what has happened to their once responsible, humane party. No use expecting them to vote for any Democratic candidate in November but we can hope they are so disgusted with current situations – and Trump’s embarrassing rants – that they will sit at home on November 8th.

  4. I’m sure the Lt. Gov. truly embraces Mike Pence. That way he can embrace some of the money the Gov. had for campaigning.
    Because Pence basically left Holcomb with no money to campaign with. That pretty well tells us just how competent he is. That pretty well tells us what kind of a ‘party person’ he is. That pretty well tells us why Trump chose him.
    If he’d had a modicum of human decency, he would have resigned, let Holcomb move up at once, and run as the incumbent governor.
    I’m glad he didn’t, but I really do hate to see anybody treat their “friends” the way Pence has treated Holcomb.

  5. Sheila; I have a direct question for you. Rethinking my earlier comments regarding Republican’s “once responsible, humane party”; has my memory failed in my dotage or am I wrong in my assessment of using the Republican party and administration of Mayor Bill Hudnut’s 16 years of leadership in Indianapolis? Until approximately 2000, I was an Independent voter so it isn’t “staunch Republicanism” when I so often to refer to Mayor Hudnut’s progressive leadership and many accomplishments for the city of Indianapolis and the much needed restructuring of our city government which he instituted. Was he the exception to the rule of Republicanism during that time or was his administration typical of the Republican party foundation?

  6. I’m going to talk about the Dem side of the ticket. It’s no big surprise that the man I call “Beige” Bayh is running for Senate. He has millions of dollars in his campaign fund, which he chose not to share with other Democrats. What is upsetting is that he didn’t throw his hat in the ring earlier, opening the way for Baron Hill to be the Dem’s candidate for governor. I mean, really, is John Gregg the best the Dems can do?

  7. Peggy, Yep, Gregg is the best the Dems can do in this state. The Blue Dogs control the party; only in the cities will you find an emerging Dem base of progressives and liberals. Give it ten to twenty more years and the state’s Democratic Party will catch up to where the national Democratic party is today.

  8. A little research on Holcomb confirms that he is a religious extremist . If he (I shudder at this thought) is elected governor we can expect more of the same Pence religious piety being shoved down our throats, including more money for religious school vouchers.

    Why would any sane progressive company want to come to our state and bring good paying jobs with them? If I were a business owner I wouldn’t move here – even with the favorable tax environment.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have high hopes for Gregg, but at least he won’t be focusing on religious control over us.

  9. JoAnn, I may be looking back through rose-colored glasses, but my recollection is that inclusive, rational political figures like Hudnut represented a significant percentage of the GOP when I was an active Republican. There was certainly a “fringe” of rabid social conservatives, but they weren’t a majority –certainly not in Marion County.

  10. Thank you, Sheila, maybe your comments will give support to the facts that the GOP today is not the party of the past and will show how far they have come from their own roots in support of Trump, Pence, Ryan, McConnell, Cruz, et al.

    Peggy; Baron Hill was a conservative Democrat till one year ago when he “came out” as progressive in support of Marriage Equality and against DADT; there is much more to
    being progressive than the LGBTQ issues, vital as they are. He was up against any Republican replacement for Dan Coats and I found no background stating he had any interest in running for Governor. Below, I copied and pasted his reason for removing himself to allow for someone he must have viewed as a stronger contender in the person of Evan Bayh who does have a rather large following. As with Hillary Clinton, I am not a supporter but will vote for Bayh in November. Possibly the Indiana Democratic Party didn’t express an interest in backing Baron Hill in the gubernatorial race; Gregg was and is a known factor, however weak he appears to be. Our options are limited so we must go with what we have been offered.

    Baron Hill’s comment:
    “While our campaign had been making great progress and building momentum all over Indiana, it is simply not enough to fight back against the slew of out-of-state, special interest and dark money that is certain to come our way between now and November.”

  11. JoAnn,

    The “rabid social conservatives” had their birth with Jimmy Carter, a Democrat. He used his Baptist background effectively to win the presidential election in 1976, the same year Hudnut became Mayor of Indianapolis.

    The “rabid social conservatives” didn’t burst into the Republican scene until Ronald Reagan’s strong EMBRACE of Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority to win the presidential race of 1980.

  12. I’m very cynical about Indiana…they will vote for republicans straight down ticket. Seriously, they have their TVs stuck on Fox Spews! I’ll let you know if I hear or see otherwise on my trip this week.

  13. Amongst the many ironies of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 is the way in which The Framers denigrated the concept of “factions,” or what we know as political parties. As they met over that hot summer in Philadelphia, windows of The Statehouse boarded during deliberations so that the public would not have access to the matters being discussed, the foundations of two political parties already were forming. The system of checks and balances created in the Constitution inherently lends itself to a two-party system. Today, we can look at the races for Indiana Governor and the seat vacated by retiring Senator (from North Carolina) Dan Coats and see—the slate for the GOP in the former, and the Democratic Party candidate in the latter were chosen entirely by party leadership. If The Framers envisioned a republic governed by a small group of “elite” people, we seem to have that dynamic here. Of course, their “elite” consisted of white, male landowners, at least twenty of whom claimed ownership over other human beings. Here, I only can say the parties’ leadership is exclusive, hardly “elite.”

  14. I know nothing of Hoosier politics but I do wonder what the state of the Republican Party will be by November. Assuming that Trumpence keeps talking and thereby disqualifying themselves that has to have an impact on the thinking of at least some Republicans. What will that be?

    They’ve been carefully taught to hate Hillary personally but at the expense of being taught to disagree with liberal politics. Trumpence agrees and disagrees with every issue so he’s not running on any platform but like The Fuhrer on personality writ large.

    By Nov it will be obvious that voting Republican has evolved to being a national embarrassment.

    So the question is what would be an effective campaigner strategy for state Republican candidates?

    I can’t imagine.

  15. Pete,

    “So the question is what would be an effective capaigner strategy for state Republican candidates?

    I can’t imagine?

    How about stressing the fact that they are not at risk of being certified and/or committed as being mentally ill. Sorry, but I can’t think of anything else.

  16. Trump is an ill person and too disinterested in affairs of state to attend to them. He wants the glory as a kind of CEO but none of the hard work necessary for a president to be president, and for good reason, i.e., he doesn’t know anything about the job and wants (as in his private businesses) to leave the details to underlings while he dispenses the wisdom only he has for us peasants. Fortunately, he will be defeated big time in November. Unfortunately (perhaps), the Republican Party is poised to go the way of the Whigs unless its members can somehow drastically redo their message to a rapidly-changing electorate and manage to stay in business. They are so fractured with internal brawls that it is at least doubtful they will succeed. Time will tell.

  17. Gerald,

    I wouldn’t question anything you have said. But, are you also saying that those who in the past who have made up the Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition, and the Tea Party will disappear because of the likes of a Donald Trump?

  18. I think that the time is near for Republicans to have to start blaming Trumpence for their failures. Of course while he is so easy to blame for everything their failures long proceeded him. It’s hard to find much success no matter how broad the definition since Nixon.

    They have reached the position where the Whitehouse is out of reach and survival itself is an issue.

    What would you do if you were on their leadership team assuming that they even have one?

  19. Of course the DNC has the opposite challange. How do you allocate campaign resources to obtain maximum influence and when can it be safely assumed that the Whitehouse is a given?

    People who are against political parties I believe underestimate the strategic and tactical roles that they play in support of their platform.

  20. Pete,

    “What would you do if you were on their leadership team assuming that they even have one?

    I would try to find ourselves another culprit like Hillary Clinton. That should be easy.

    cul-prit (kul’prit) n. [<Anglo-Fr culpable, guilty+prit, ready (to prove] a person guilty of a crime or offense.
    ~Webster's New World Dictionary

  21. Until the Ds are out of a super minority position in the legislature a Holcomb or Gregg policy has no meaning. With Holcomb as governor legislative Rs will pass whatever they want and he will sign. With Gregg as governor he could veto legislation knowing that the votes to over ride are instantly there. Any new policy opportunities must be preceeded by the removal of the D super minority.

  22. For those complaining about Gregg not being progressive enough, there are plenty of chances to elect progressive candidates on the down ballot. Juli Dominguez, who spoke before Bernie when he came to IPFW, got caucused in a couple of weeks ago to run against Senate President Pro-tem David Long,

  23. Lt. Governor Sue Ellsperman was pushed out over differences with Mike Pence including LGBT issues and perhaps the anti-abortion bill requiring burial or cremation of fetal remains and removing parents’ right to abortions when a fetus suffered congenital medical problems. So it defies logic that Gov. Pence would select someone who differed with him on these and other social issues.

    Several years ago, Lt. Gov. Holcomb managed a congressional office for former Cong. John Hostettler who was an extreme right warrior on social and cultural issues. Holcomb campaigned on these same issues when he ran for State Representative and lost in southwestern Indiana.

    I have to disagree with Bill Bailey though I don’t enjoy doing so. The Governor’s relationship with the legislature is a major concern, but the Governor also makes many decisions when the legislature is out of session, including hundreds of budget issues that impact real people such as how many caseworkers are employed in Child Protective Services. The Governor decides how vigorously laws, rules, and regs are enforced. The Governor appoints the many state board members – including the State Board of Education – which have immense power over public service of all sorts and private commerce as well.

    These administrative duties receive much less public attention but are every bit as important as we’ve learned in how Mike Pence didn’t honor the voters’ decision to elect State Supt. Glenda Ritz to guide educational policy.

  24. As expected, and appreciated, Nancy Pappas has correctly stated the out of session power of a governor. From experience, and I am sure Nancy would agree, a D super minority does not benefit the public, any progressive idea, the state, or even the democratic process.

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