Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

January 11, 2013

Pence comes to office with humility and an open door

Just minutes after he sat down in my office to talk about his incoming administration, Gov.-elect Mike Pence hit on the very subject I had been thinking about.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had a great rookie season following a legend - Peyton Manning.

"Luck did pretty well," Pence said with a smile.

I think it will take a full decade for Gov. Mitch Daniels to fully cement himself as a truly "legendary" Indiana governor. We won't know how his education reforms, his Major Moves toll road lease, and the true impact on things like the telecommunications reforms will fully play out.

There was no question that his intellectual capacity, his willingness to use all available political capital, and his ability to project ideas into profound change and sprawling reform served him well. Daniels certainly had his detractors, but in our final Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll last October, Daniels had a 58 percent approval rating.

After losing two Congressional elections in 1988 and '90, Pence recreated himself, winning a seat in 2000 and in the next 12 years, rose to the No. 3 position in the U.S. House Republican conference.

While he made a reputation for himself as an ardent social conservative - instigating, for instance, the Planned Parenthood defunding movement - he was also a profound deficit hawk who lashed out at his own party and President George W. Bush for the "drunken spending" that resulted in trillion dollar deficits.

So on Jan. 14, Mike Pence becomes Indiana's 50th governor, a race he won with less that 50 percent of the vote, but he refused to use the negative TV ads that could have rolled up better numbers.

His critics fear he will be an ideologue. But once we got past the football analogies, the Pence message was one of inclusion.

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