GOP lobbying to succeed Pence shifts to Cleveland convention

July 18, 2016

Indiana's delegates to the Republican National Convention will be celebrating Mike Pence's selection as Donald Trump's running mate while also pondering who'll take his place as the GOP candidate for governor.

Pence made a low-key departure Monday for Cleveland, where he is being joined this week by the three leading candidates for the gubernatorial nomination, along with most of the state party leaders who will choose among the three next week.

One prominent state Republican who won't be traveling to Cleveland is U.S. Rep. Todd Young, who is choosing to concentrate on his U.S. Senate campaign against new Democratic candidate Evan Bayh.

Pence didn't make any remarks or take any questions before he boarded a private jet at Indianapolis International Airport with his wife, Karen, and his daughter, Charlotte. The Republican governor had returned to Indiana on Saturday following his formal debut that morning as Trump's vice presidential pick in Manhattan.

Pence's departure wasn't open to the public. His highest-profile role during the convention is expected to be his nomination acceptance speech Wednesday night.

Delegates to the convention include Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, who are both seeking the Republican nomination for governor after Pence withdrew as a candidate on Friday because state law prohibits him from seeking state and federal offices in the November election.

The other leading candidate, U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, is attending the convention along with her husband, David, who was selected as a delegate in April, Brooks spokeswoman Dollyne Sherman said.

The new GOP candidate to face Democratic nominee John Gregg in November will be selected by the Indiana Republican state committee at a July 26 meeting.

With most of the 22 state committee members attending the GOP convention, there will be many discussions about the gubernatorial race, Rokita spokesman Tim Edson said.

"It is a good opportunity for Todd and, obviously, the other candidates to make their case one-on-one to those committee members," Edson said. "We're obviously taking full advantage of the opportunity."

Pence might not be heavily immersed in the jockeying to replace him in the coming days because "his life will not be his own for a while" with his new role as Trump's running mate, said former state Republican chairman Mike McDaniel.

"He will be too busy doing other things to be getting involved," McDaniel said.

Young, the Republican candidate for Indiana's suddenly competitive U.S. Senate race, will be in Indiana rather than Cleveland this week.

Young has repeatedly refused to say whether he supports Trump's presidential nomination, saying he's solely focused on his own campaign. The Senate race was shaken up last week when underdog Democratic nominee Baron Hill dropped out and Bayh announced he would try to make a political comeback for the seat he gave up six years ago.

"Todd has long planned to spend the coming weeks listening to Hoosiers here at home," said Young's campaign manager, Trevor Foughty.


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