Thursday, June 4, 2015

Governor Pence Makes Yet Another Huge PR Blunder in Penning Letter Welcoming Indy Pride Festival

The Indianapolis Star reports:
Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who earlier this year pushed for a religious freedom law that angered supporters of gay rights, issued a short welcome letter to Indy Pride for its LGBT celebration festival that starts this week.
"On behalf of the people of Indiana, welcome to Indianapolis," Pence wrote in the letter. "I am confident that those of you who traveled from out of state will come to know our famous Hoosier Hospitality."   
Pence's short letter touts Indianapolis' attractions as a convention city but does not address specific details or the purpose of the LGBT pride event.
"Although the letter doesn't specifically welcome LGBT to the city of Indianapolis, we appreciate that Governor Pence issued us this letter," said Indy Pride president Chris Morehead.
Pence's response came months after Indy Pride requested a letter from him, during the height of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act controversy, to welcome event visitors as other elected officials routinely do.
"What better way to show that Indiana is open for business and not targeting certain groups than for the Governor of Indiana to put out the welcome mat to these visitors," Morehead wrote at the end of March. "We think it would go a long way to allay the fears the nation and the world have been expressing against RFRA."
One wonders who in the Governor's Office provided Pence with the idiotic political advice that writing the letter was a good idea  Penning the letter simply gave the LGBT folks and their allies another chance to attack the Governor.  Didn't Pence learn anything after being assailed and vilified by that community's dishonest campaign against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a piece of legislation completely unrelated to LGBT rights? 

Pence didn't win a single vote with his letter.  But the letter did have one effect - it helped to continue the alienation of Governor Pence's conservative political base, this time the evangelicals who have supported Pence long after Governor's tea party supporters began leaving him over his support of things like Common Core Lite, taxpayer support for sports stadiums, local tax increases, and taxpayer subsidized early childhood education day care.

As I've said on these pages before, I like Mike.  He is one the few nice guys in politics, a man with an extremely engaging  personality and who seemed had endless political potential.  But Pence has surrounded himself with advisers who are either clueless when it comes to political strategy or are intentionally undermining the Governor.  Political success is the art of establishing a base and building upon it.  In 2 1/2 years though Pence has managed to deeply alienate his base while adding nothing to it.    The time for Pence to right his gubernatorial ship is running short.


Anonymous said...

Paul -- You write that "Penning the letter simply gave the LGBT folks and their allies another chance to attack the Governor" -- yet the LGBT spokesman cited in the original article says that they "welcomed the letter from Governor Pence." Am I misreading something, or is this such an issue with you that you can no longer think or see clearly on this matter. But my reading of this is that no one seems to be raising an issue with the Pence letter other than the fact that it is rather generic, ie could have been sent to the NRA, Indy Pride, Advance America's friendly gatherings, or any organization far right or far left. What gives?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 2:56,

Not sure what planet you're living on but outside of Morehead, everyone from the LGBT community has been roundly ridiculing Pence for writing the letter. And of course Morehead wouldn't participate in that because he asked for the letter to begin with. But does anyone seriously think Morehead did not have ulterior motives - that he knew the letter would be seized upon by activists in the LGBT community to bash Pence. And that's exactly what happened.

The purpose of the piece was to point out that writing the letter was incredibly foolish - he wasn't going to score points with the LGBT community and would continue to alienate his conservative supporters.

Pete Boggs said...

Imagine what might've been with JustIN...

Paul K. Ogden said...

Yeah, Pete, you're not convincing me Pence was wrong with JustIn. The state needs to consolidate its communications efforts instead of having public information officers spread out all over state government with no coordination whatsoever. The problem w/JustIn was not the idea, which was good, but how it was sold.

Anonymous said...


Respectfully Mike Pence is out of his depth! His refusal to fire all the Daniels holdovers on day one is proof enough of that. His niceness is an act he is just an empty suit. He needs to go. Granted he is head and shoulders above Daniels. But that is a very low bar to go above! I disagree with the media takedown of him. But he is doing himself no favor's by continuing to be so dense!

Anonymous said...

I am a Constitutional Conservative who is an out gay university educated person who unhappily felt no choice but to grudgingly cast a ballot for Pence rather than for Democrat John Gregg. I even attended that ridiculous Pence inaugural event downtown which turned out to be a total joke to us grass roots Conservatives. I still would not vote for John Gregg (or any Democrat ever again) but I also will never give Mike Pence my vote another time. Never. Ever.

Gary, you are hitting all the nail heads with this blog post no matter what persons like Anon 2:56 might offer as commentary on your excellent analysis. Mike Pence habitually and continually surrounds himself with the least effective people. Mike Pence may be a nice guy but he is a nice guy who is TOTALLY CLUELESS. Who gave Pence this awful advice on this pathetic letter which has cost him even the shreds of respect I had remaining for him? Jeff Cardwell??? If it was Cardwell, who is an extremely close friend, that says it all.

With this ridiculous letter, I am moved to be more completely aligned with residential real estate agent and liberal Democrat activist Kevin Warren who sells the signs: "Pence Must Go". To write a letter welcoming people to an event in the State or in Indianapolis without even addressing the reason for the event shows nothing less than a coward and someone who just absolutely refuses to admit we gay men and women vote, let alone have the inalienable right to exist.

PENCE MUST GO! And he should take his BFF Jeff Cardwell with him.

Pete Boggs said...

Pride shouldn't be confused with joi de vivre. Proud parent this, proud booster that; the enduring problem with pride, is that it goeth before...

Anon 7:59 is right, it's a ridiculous letter; smacks of pandering. Has the Governor welcomed this festival in the past?

Anonymous said...

I'm a guy who likes to snuggle up to naked women.

Where's my party?

Pete said...

One attribute that creates political astuteness is to represent a majority of your constituents. Pence apparently chooses not to.

Anonymous said...

But did he do the wrong thing ethically? No.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:36: Honesty is a critical component of ethics, of acting ethically, of "being ethical". You seem to imply that Mike Pence can be dishonest, or deceptive, with that letter and also be "ethical". That does not fly and you offer an argument to deflect from the point and to excuse Pence's unctuous, feeble attempt to have his political cake [ingratiate himself to different voter blocs about the same "issue"] and eat it too. I am Anon 7:59 and I have come to realize this is who Mike Pence is; he shall never receive from me another vote ever.

Anonymous said...

The governor routinely "writes" letters welcoming meetings and conventions to Indianapolis.

I'll bet that this one reads exactly like all the others sent out by his office and differs only in that the participants are members of a class the governor prefers to ignore.

Given the "rank" of such welcoming letters on a governor's "to do" list, it might be that he never even saw it before it went out.