The House’s third ranked GOP leader,
Rep Mike Pence is considering stepping away from his leadership position, in part to consider a 2012 Presidential run. A Pence run, coming from the Evangelical-SoCon wing of the GOP, would directly challenge former Ark. Governor Mike Huckabee, considered the SoCon wing leader. Huckabee was recently upstaged by Pence at the Conservative’s Value Voters Summit and lost to Pence in their Straw Poll. Indiana
Mike Pence surprised political observers in September, by upsetting Huckabee, to win the VVF Straw poll. Pence won with 24% of the attendee’s votes against 22% for Huckabee - a 21% drop from Huck’s 2009 showing. As pointed out by many attendees, they like Huck, but don’t get the feeling he’ll give up the Fox TV couch for another run for the White House.
Since the VVF, Pence has seen his political stock on the rise. He’s a newly rumored member of the 2012 GOP club, has been out campaigning for Indiana Republicans seeking state and national office, and even managed a side trip to
, an early 2012 voting state. While in Iowa , Pence stressed the need for the GOP as well as the nation, to uphold the social conservative values, despite desperate economic times. This is political ground usually tilled by Huckabee and to some degree Sarah Palin, another potential 2012 candidate. For Pence to stake out a share of this turf, indicates he will cede no ground to Huck, should a run for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue emerge. Iowa
Pence would be a serious challenger to Huckabee in the former pastor’s Southern and Mid-West base, as they both appeal to the same voter profile. Huckabee, who had the SoCon wing mostly to himself in 2008, can ill afford to have an attack on the right, since many FiCons, DefCons and Moderates already view him with a suspect eye. While leading in early Iowa 2012 polls, albeit by thinner margins, his standing in a May
poll was at a embarrassing 4th place. A viable SoCon with a fresh approach, who’s fit & feisty, may prove troublesome for Huck, who seems more interested in playing the petulant child, rather than uniting the party. South Carolina
The Indiana Rep brings both fiscal and social conservatives values to the table, without the liberal baggage of Huckabee’s Clemency problems, tax increase and big government issues. A former radio broadcaster, he has an engaging speaking style, laced with tart humor and avoids the class warfare rhetoric so many GOP faithful detest Huckabee for employing. Pence also avoids Huck’s tendency to sway between the cloying sweet preacher and the “non-establishment” GOP outsider. He’s straightforward, direct and focused.
Some feel Pence’s rumored decision to step down from his leadership position could also mean he has set his eyes on the Indiana Governor’s mansion. Current Governor and another potential 2012er, Mitch Daniels can not run for another term, which ends in 2012. Pence, who some say is tired of the inside the Beltway machinations, would release his position in order to give his attention for his future aspirations.
Strategically, a 2012 Presidential run might be a stretch for Pence, especially due to his lack of executive experience, after all, Congressmen have a tough history in Presidential politics. It is also uncertian how skilled he is at fundraising and building a political organization. But going for the Governor's mansion, would allow Pence to serve as a Chief Exec, gaining much needed experience, while establishing himself as a future GOP powerhouse for 2012 or 2020. In any event, he is a man to watch, especially if one is Mike Huckabee.