IBJNews

Pence's inner circle includes old, new hands

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

As Indiana Gov.-elect Mike Pence builds his administration ahead of his January inauguration, his leadership style will define both his immediate staff and those who will lead Indiana's various departments and agencies. Asked last week about how his team would be different from outgoing Gov. Mitch Daniels', Pence explained dryly: "Well, I chose them."

He then turned serious: "The challenge that we've had, and we've taken it in a deliberative way, is to be thoughtful and to be discerning about not only recruiting people to our administration, but also retaining men and women who have served us with great effect."

Pence's staff says he likes to chew over an issue extensively before presenting it to the public, and wants to hear from multiple sides before making up his mind.

Many of the department heads he's announced so far are carryovers from the Daniels administration.

But Pence's inner circle is one all his own. A top Pence staffer said the group consists of longtime aide and Chief of Staff Bill Smith, incoming First Lady Karen Pence, budget director Chris Atkins, political director Chris Crabtree and incoming Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann.

Each one brings a different strength, ranging from from longtime advisers like Smith to people Pence learned to trust during his campaign like Ellspermann. The staffer spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Pence and his team don't divulge strategy publicly.

Atkins, a veteran of Daniels' budget team, played a central role in vetting policy proposals, the staffer said; and Crabtree, a former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, worked with a network of local Republican chairmen during the campaign.

And Pence has long touted his close relationship with his wife, Karen, leading off his ad campaign with the story of how they met. The first lady's role in political advising will mark a 180-degree turn from the Daniels administration, where Cheri Daniels specifically asked to be kept out of the spotlight.

The inner circle has already helped Pence fill key posts, and will be there as he crafts his first budget and begins work on his first legislative agenda. They will also play a key role as he decides whether a White House run is in his future.

That circle has also been something of a mystery to many in Indiana politics, largely because Pence is new to the Statehouse. Daniels' insistence on keeping his own counsel on politics and policy is well-known in the Statehouse, but Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb and longtime Daniels friend Mark Lubbers have led a small group of trusted confidants.

Lubbers said it's hard to pin down similarities between any governor's inner circle because each one is so different and has to mesh with the executive they're working for.

"It's less a tale of the tape, than it is an assessment of the capacities of the individuals to work together. And, more than anything, to do what their boss what wants, not what they want," Lubbers said. He drew an analogy to former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight's style of team-building, which focused on the dynamics between the players and less on individual superstars.

Lubbers cited former Gov. Robert Orr, who relied on a small, tight-knit group, during his eight years in office in the 1980s. Orr eschewed a chief of staff, he said, and instead had a group of top aides who split the duties. Lubbers worked the press; veteran Republican operative and RNC committee member John Hammond worked with lawmakers; and Ken Kobe, executive director for law firm Barnes and Thornburg, ran the budget.

"I've had a couple of opportunities to visit with Gov.-elect Pence, and I think he's very in tune with this. He certainly understands teamwork," Lubbers said. "I would be very surprised if they don't get off to a very good start."

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. If I were a developer I would be looking at the Fountain Square and Fletcher Place neighborhoods instead of Broad Ripple. I would avoid the dysfunctional BRVA with all of their headaches. It's like deciding between a Blackberry or an iPhone 5s smartphone. BR is greatly in need of updates. It has become stale and outdated. Whereas Fountain Square, Fletcher Place and Mass Ave have become the "new" Broad Ripples. Every time I see people on the strip in BR on the weekend I want to ask them, "How is it you are not familiar with Fountain Square or Mass Ave? You have choices and you choose BR?" Long vacant storefronts like the old Scholar's Inn Bake House and ZA, both on prominent corners, hurt the village's image. Many business on the strip could use updated facades. Cigarette butt covered sidewalks and graffiti covered walls don't help either. The whole strip just looks like it needs to be power washed. I know there is more to the BRV than the 700-1100 blocks of Broad Ripple Ave, but that is what people see when they think of BR. It will always be a nice place live, but is quickly becoming a not-so-nice place to visit.

  2. I sure hope so and would gladly join a law suit against them. They flat out rob people and their little punk scam artist telephone losers actually enjoy it. I would love to run into one of them some day!!

  3. Biggest scam ever!! Took 307 out of my bank ac count. Never received a single call! They prey on new small business and flat out rob them! Do not sign up with these thieves. I filed a complaint with the ftc. I suggest doing the same ic they robbed you too.

  4. Woohoo! We're #200!!! Absolutely disgusting. Bring on the congestion. Indianapolis NEEDS it.

  5. So Westfield invested about $30M in developing Grand Park and attendance to date is good enough that local hotel can't meet the demand. Carmel invested $180M in the Palladium - which generates zero hotel demand for its casino acts. Which Mayor made the better decision?

ADVERTISEMENT