The schedule was set. We knew Donald Trump had settled on Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) as his presidential running mate. We knew when and where the Republican candidate would make the announcement. We even learned that the far-right governor had traveled to the New York area yesterday afternoon in advance of his introduction. The speculation and air of mystery surrounding the process had come to a sudden end.
But then Trump surprised the political world, declaring on Twitter last night that he’s postponing the running-mate announcement, ostensibly because of the deadly terrorist attack in Nice, France. Complicating matters further, the presumptive Republican nominee told a national television audience that he hasn’t yet made a “final, final decision” among the three finalists.
A model of efficient decision-making this isn’t.
But as the Washington Post noted, this unexpected delay doesn’t just matter in the presidential race; there’s also the gubernatorial race in Indiana to consider.
The next few hours are critical to the Indiana governor’s race. If, as expected, Trump picks Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) to be his running mate, Pence will have to drop out of his reelection race because Indiana law doesn’t let you run for two offices on one ballot.The rules say he has to make that decision by noon Friday. Trump was set to make his announcement at 11 a.m. Friday, but he postponed it in light of the terrorist attack in Nice, France. Now, an announcement might not happen until this weekend. That means Pence could be forced to make a tough decision Friday morning between staying on the ballot and forfeiting the vice presidential nomination or taking a risk and getting off the ballot.
It’s a relatively safe bet that Pence will take the gamble and things will work out. The governor will probably end his re-election bid – which was turning out to be a pretty difficult race for him anyway – before this afternoon’s deadline, and move forward with his expected campaign for national office.
But there has to be just a hint of doubt, doesn’t there? Pence is counting on Trump being steady and consistent enough not to change his mind at the last minute – because if he does, the Indiana governor may soon find himself without any job in elected office at all.
For the sake of conversation, let’s assume that this plays out as expected. Let’s say Pence bows out of his race in Indiana within the next few hours, assuming he’ll be added to the Republican ticket. Chances are, Trump’s postponement won’t affect the outcome, and by tomorrow, Pence will be introduced as Trump’s running mate.
What happens to Indiana’s gubernatorial race?
The one thing we can say with some certainty is that former Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), a two-term governor who preceded Pence, will not seek his old job. The Republican Hoosier, now a university president, issued a written statement yesterday saying in no uncertain terms, “[S]hould there be a sudden need to name a new nominee for governor, I will not present myself as a candidate nor would I accept the nomination if offered.”
That said, there’s quite a bit of speculation surrounding U.S. Reps. Susan Banks (R) and Todd Roikita (R), as well as Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R), who’s only been on the job since March. (Remember, Pence dropped his previous lieutenant governor, Sue Ellspermann, for reasons that have never really been explained.)
Democrats are going with former state House Speaker John Gregg (D), who nearly defeated Pence four years ago, and who’s been well positioned to do well in 2016.