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Pence to call supporters; may signal 2012 plans

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Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pence is planning a private conference call with supporters this week, fueling speculation that he will make an announcement soon on whether he'll run for Indiana governor in 2012.

Pence had scheduled the private call for Monday at 10 a.m., but campaign spokesman Matt Lloyd said the call has been postponed until later this week because of the news of the death of Osama bin Laden.

Most political observers expect Pence — an outspoken conservative who said earlier this year he would not run for president — to run for governor.

"If he's not running, that will be the surprise," said Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Should he decide to run, Pence would enter the race with name recognition, a network of supporters and cash that could help him clear the field of other Republicans considering a campaign. Pence has traveled the state and spoken at several Lincoln Day dinners, and planned to speak to students at Pendleton Heights High School Monday.

"He certainly deserves the title of frontrunner at this point in time," Downs said.

Republican businessman Jim Wallace of Fishers has said he's exploring the possibility of running for governor.

Among Democrats, many consider former House Speaker John Gregg a leading potential candidate. Gregg has said he plans to form an exploratory committee but hasn't made a formal announcement yet. U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly has also been mentioned, but he's considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Richard Lugar. Former Sen. Evan Bayh and Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel both have declined to run.

Current Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels cannot seek a third consecutive term and is expected to make a decision within weeks on whether he'll run for president. Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman is not running for governor.

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