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Pence slowly putting his stamp on Indiana, GOP

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Performance metrics and "key priority items" sound like dry management talk, but they provide insight into how Gov. Mike Pence is slowly taking the reins of the state and crafting Indiana's government with his own priorities.

Pence as governor has lacked much of the definition former Gov. Mitch Daniels established over eight years in office — and the image Pence crafted for himself as a social crusader over a dozen years in Congress hasn't stuck around.

But his agenda is slowly emerging, in ways both obvious and oblique.

Budget Director Chris Atkins delivered new priorities last week during a "lull" around the Statehouse, focusing on infant mortality, youth smoking and obesity, and a slew of "jobs" metrics, including employment among Indiana's war veterans.

In some cases, Atkins pointed out they are how Pence will determine whether state government is doing its job.

"They are the chief means by which the governor will hold agencies accountable," Atkins said at a Statehouse briefing, where he added Pence will award agencies with more money depending on how they perform.

The Pence team is done dancing with the Legislature, for the most part, until next session. And 2013 is a rare off-year, without statewide elections to draw the young administration out across the state.

In many ways, Pence has been hampered by a political reality he has acknowledged in catchphrases like "good to great," inherently recognizing Daniels' continuing popularity. And Pence has just had a slow start grasping state government. Like Daniels did in 2005, Pence came into the Statehouse "cold" following a stint in Washington.

The new governor's first-term legislative agenda slowly trickled out over the four-month session, with some confusion over which items were his, with the stark exception of the income tax cut. Pence signed a series of executive orders on his first day in office, placing a hold on new state regulations and establishing "family impact statements" across state agencies.

With the exception of two embattled agencies where Pence sought to implement his own reforms — the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Child Services — Pence leaned heavily on Daniels' agency heads to fill out his team.

Rob Wynkoop recently left the Department of Administration and Mike Cline left the Indiana Department of Transportation to take jobs with Daniels at Purdue University.

Down the street from the Statehouse at the Indiana Republican Party headquarters, another group of Daniels' allies split after helping Pence settle in. Party Chairman Eric Holcomb announced he would be leaving to run U.S. Sen. Dan Coats' state office and former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman announced she was stepping down as a national committee member to focus on her new job as an economic development director in southwest Indiana.

"While there is never a perfect time for these types of transitions, I believe this year, being an off-election year, is the best time," Holcomb said in a statement announcing his departure. "In addition, and most importantly, these changes will give Governor Mike Pence a wonderful opportunity to charge forward and write our party's next chapter of success."

It was a key reminder that Daniels no longer presides in Indianapolis. Both Pence and Daniels are prominent Republicans with political footprints stretching well beyond the state borders, but the current governor has walked a fine line trying to define himself as a conservative Republican who's distinct from Daniels.

He now has another chance to place his stamp on the state with the coming pick of a new party chairman. That's expected soon, well before Holcomb's July 9 departure.

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

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