Sadly for Erickson, there are signs that Pence is turning away from a run for the White House in favor of a run for governor back home in Indiana. The respected Howey Politics Indiana political news service reports that Pence is “scheduling Republican Lincoln Days Dinner all over Indiana,” what the site calls “the best clue yet that he is preparing to launch a 2012 Indiana gubernatorial campaign, as opposed to seeking the presidency.”
Team Pence is keeping quiet for now, telling the site that Pence “has not scheduled any media events to announce future plans.” But with the field for the 2012 gubernatorial race opening up — former Sen. Evan Bayh (D) defied predictions and decided against running for governor next year and sitting Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman (R) is also sitting this one out — Pence has a reasonably clear path to the Republican nomination and a strong shot at a general election win.
While that may be good news for Indiana Republicans intent on hanging on to the governor’s mansion after Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) vacates it in 2013 (and perhaps sets off on his own bid for the presidency well before that), Pence’s recent moves could come as a disappointment to Erickson and other conservatives who have long touted Pence as a presidential dark horse.
To be sure, Pence is Erickson’s second choice for the presidency. But he seems convinced that Pence is the only one who has a real shot at winning without caving to the moderates.
“I am not excited by or inspired by any of them save Sarah Palin and, as much as I love Sarah Palin, I am adamantly convinced that she cannot win given the ridiculous smears and hate thrown her way by Democrats and, frankly, by a lot of Republicans. She has been made radioactive,” Erickson writes.
That thought led Erickson to look around at his other options.
Right now I see plenty of candidates the establishment really likes, but very few that the grassroots could agree on across the board. Certainly Romney fans like Romney. Pawlenty fans like Pawlenty, Huckabee fans like Huckabee. But largely those fans of the individual candidates then hate the other guy.
Pence, Erickson writes, “bridges the gap between the establishment and the grassroots. He is in the comfort zone of both.”
Erickson acknowledges that Pence may be seeing an easier path to the top of Indiana politics rather than the top of national politics, but the blogger still has “hope” that Pence will make the harder choice, do “something extraordinary” and run for the presidency.
“I’ll support the nominee, whoever that might be,” Erickson writes. “But Mike Pence gets me excited to support the nominee.”