|Congressman Mike Pence (R-Indiana)|
I'll never forget a poll a few months before the election asked if the State was going in the "right direction." About 70% said yes. The next question asked if Hoosiers should change direction. About 70% said yes. That spelled trouble for Mutz.
The fact is that Hoosiers occasionally like to change things. Running as a Governor Daniels, Part II, would be a tremendous political mistake for Congressman Mike Pence.
Pence is up against a seasoned, skillful politician, former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg. While overall Daniels is popular, there are aspects of the Governor's record that are easily exploitable. Expect Gregg to try to hang around Pence's neck the Medicaid privatization fiasco, various agency scandals, the accounting errors that resulted in millions of dollars being lost in the state's couch cushions, and the Governor's recent comment suggesting that state agencies paying nearly $3 million in late fees over the past 2 years is just not a big deal.
In his quest to be Governor, Pence would be well advised to be his own person. He needs to say that, while he admires Daniels, he has substantial differences with the Governor on how state government should be run. He needs to say that he would take an active role in reigning in mismanagement within the agencies and that he finds it unacceptable for the state to misplace millions or for state agencies to spend $3 million on late fees because bills aren't being paid on time. He needs to say that the Governor is wrong that things couldn't be run better.
If Pence's political advisers want a model in what can go wrong for a Republican running to replace a popular outgoing Republican Governor, they might take a look at the Mutz-Bayh race of 1988.