Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman announced on Monday that “minor” health issues will keep her from running for Indiana governor in 2012.
In a prepared statement, Skillman did not divulge specifics about her health.
“With much disappointment, I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for governor in 2012,” she said. “My end-of-year physical exam revealed minor health issues. Nothing will interfere with my devotion to my duties as lieutenant governor, and I plan to continue the same pace as always. However, it is best to continue without the additional stress of a gubernatorial campaign.”
A former state senator from Bedford, Skillman, 60, has served as lieutenant governor under Gov. Mitch Daniels since 2004. A two-term limit prevents Daniels from running again for governor.
Skillman's decision leaves U.S. Rep. Mike Pence as the most prominent Republican who has talked about a campaign for the state's top job. No well-known Democrats are looming as candidates.
Pence stepped down from his position as the No. 3 leader among House Republicans after the November election, saying he was considering his political opportunities. He's also been receiving support from social conservatives to enter the 2012 presidential race.
Pence issued a statement praising Skillman but didn't address whether her announcement would affect his decision about entering the governor's race.
"My family and I hold Becky in the highest regard and were troubled to learn that she was encountering challenges to her health," Pence said.
Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd said any campaign decisions will come after the first of the year.
Daniels extolled the contributions of Skillman, whom he picked as his running mate in 2004.
"No governor has ever had a better partner; she has been a central figure in every reform and every big change we have brought about," Daniels said. "Since we citizens won't be fortunate enough to experience it, take it from me that Becky would have made a superb governor, ready in every respect and Hoosier to her core."
Skillman has held elected office since 1976, serving as the Lawrence County recorder and clerk before joining the state Senate in 1992.
In the video below from IBJ's "Leading Questions" series, Skillman discusses her small-town upbringing and how she navigates her role as the governor's chief consensus builder for thorny issues.
Two prominent Democrats mentioned as possible gubernatorial candidates — retiring U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh and defeated U.S. Rep. Baron Hill — have said they won't enter the 2012 race.
Other potential Democratic candidates include Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel, Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez and outgoing U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth, who was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee this year for Bayh's Senate seat.