Republicans set caucus to fill Pence’s spot in governor’s race

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State Republicans are working quickly to choose a new gubernatorial candidate following Donald Trump’s selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate.

Indiana Republican Chairman Jeff Cardwell told IBJ late Friday that the party’s 22-member central committee will caucus at 10 a.m. July 26 at 10 a.m. at its headquarters. That will be the week after several members return from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The caucus will be a closed-door meeting, with members debating the candidates before voting. A simple majority of 12 votes is needed for a candidate to be confirmed as Pence’s replacement. 

State law required Pence to withdraw his name from the governor’s race by noon Friday in order to join the national ticket. Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks and Todd Rokita then withdrew from their current re-election bids in order to be considered for the governor’s race.

Cardwell said that Holcomb, Brooks and Rokita are “in full campaign mode as we speak” and that other potential candidates are “testing the waters” as they try to decide whether to join the race. Anyone who wants to be considered for the gubernatorial nomination is required to file paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office and the Indiana Republican Party at least 72 hours prior to the caucus.

If Brooks and Rokita are not chosen to run for governor, they could be tapped by precinct committee members to resume their re-election campaigns. However, Cardwell said that is far from certain to happen.

“It’s very high risk,” he said of the withdrawals. “There are no guarantees. We will have caucuses in those districts and they will have to join in the debate and see if anyone wants to challenge them.”

The central committee could reappoint Holcomb to run for lieutenant governor if he is not chosen to run for governor. But he could also face opposition—especially if the eventual gubernatorial nominee wanted a different running mate.

Cardwell said his phone “has rang off the hook” since the announcement of Pence as Trump’s running mate, and that he expects the move will help Republicans down the ballot in Indiana.

“I think Mike Pence’s record speaks for itself,” he said. “We have more people working than any time in our 200-year history.”

“That story is going to be well received all around the country.”

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