Pence vs. Pete
Plus: Todd Young's big week.
Mike Pence is on the verge of making some Hoosier history. Should the former vice president run for president in 2024, as all signs indicate, it would be the first time in nearly a generation that Hoosiers announced as candidates in consecutive presidential elections.
Following Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 Democratic presidential primary bid, Pence’s presumed 2024 bid would mark the last time Hoosiers ran as declared candidates since 2000. That’s when former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle announced and ran briefly in 2000, on the heels of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar’s 1996 presidential bid.
According to an analysis by IMPORTANTVILLE’S resident adjunct historian Trevor Foughty of Capitol & Washington, the last time Hoosiers made it onto primary ballots in consecutive presidential elections was Democratic Sens. Vance Hartke and Birch Bayh in 1972 and 1976. (Coincidentally, both lost their next US Senate elections four years after).
Prior to Buttigieg’s Iowa caucus victory, the last Hoosier to win a state nominating contest for president was former Democratic Gov. Matt Welsh in 1964, when he defeated George Wallace and won Indiana.
If Pence announces and runs, will he make it to next March? The month has proven the death knell for Hoosier presidential candidates. In the last 50 years, the longest any Hoosier stayed in a race was Hartke, who withdrew in the last week of that month in 1972. Bayh, Lugar, and Buttigieg all bowed out in the first week. Quayle withdrew in August before any contests.
When Mike Pence mocked Pete Buttigieg at Saturday’s Gridiron dinner for taking a “maternity leave” after the birth of his twins and giving “everyone else” “postpartum depression” in the aftermath, he reignited a four-year old blood feud with his fellow Hoosier.
The storyline enters its fifth day in the news cycle, as Chasten Buttigieg responded to Pence’s remarks on ABC’s “The View” today.
On Monday, in an interview, Pete Buttigieg said: “It’s a strange thing to me because the last time I saw him, he asked me about my kids like a normal person would, and I guess at a political event in white ties, it’s a little different.”
The episode is only the latest turn in a long simmering vendetta between the two ambitious Midwestern politicians whose paths have become both inextricable and politically symbiotic. Their relationship has been documented in at least four political memoirs so far — Buttigieg’s 2019 book Shortest Way Home, Chasten’s 2020 memoir I Have Something to Tell You, Smith’s Any Given Tuesday and Pence’s So Help Me God.
Good Thursday afternoon, and welcome back to IMPORTANTVILLE.
Where’s Mike? Pence heads to New Hampshire today and Iowa Saturday.
Gov. Eric Holcomb’s NCAA bracket has Purdue University going all the way.
Rep. Frank Mrvan is being targeted by Republicans—again. When the National Republican Campaign Committee unveiled their 37 target districts, the Northwest Indiana congressman landed on the list.
TODD YOUNG’S BIG WEEK
Since 2017, Republican Sen. Todd Young has fought for the repeal of the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force in Iraq, seeking to win back congressional authority on intervention in foreign conflicts. Since 2019, he’s been the GOP lead on the issue.
Today, a procedural motion to that end passed the Senate 68-27, leading to a final vote in the coming days.
It comes the week of the 20-year-anniversary of the War in Iraq. And it also marks a significant symbolic victory for Young, who has racked up legislative accomplishments in recent months, including passage of the CHIPs and Science Act of 2022.
Just this week, Young met in Indianapolis with Alejandra Y. Castillo, U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, as Indiana seeks to become one of 20 tech hubs designated in federal legislation.
“Can Trump’s ‘Straight Man’ Lighten Up?,” by me, POLITICO Magazine
As he rose to become President Donald Trump’s No. 2, Pence found himself, increasingly, in humorless situations. But he occasionally did offer glimpses of that wholesome wit. “I come from the Joseph A. Bank wing of the West Wing,” Pence told members of Congress at a 2018 GOP retreat — a line less about his sartorial preferences and more about his modest financial standing compared to the millionaires and billionaires in the Trump administration. “Okay, you with me on that? Seriously, people stopped me and said, ‘Is that a new suit?’ And I said, ‘Two for one,” following the polite Midwestern custom of deflecting a compliment by stressing you got said item for a bargain.
But even those who are friendly with him wish he would flash more of his humor in public. “If Mike Pence would just be himself, and not script everything so much, instead of 7 percent in the polls, he’d be at 20 percent right now,” says longtime friend Mike Murphy, a former Republican member of the Indiana House of Representatives.
“‘Hoosier’: A Preacher Named Harry, a Burly Man or a Hill,” by Ben Zimmer in The Wall Street Journal
It might seem foolhardy to try to legislate etymology, but an Indiana lawmaker sought to do just that earlier this year. State Rep. J.D. Prescott introduced a bill in the Indiana House of Representatives that would codify the origin of a term that has long nicknamed the state and its inhabitants: “Hoosier.”
For those outside of Indiana, the “Hoosier” label may be most associated with basketball. The men’s hoops team of Indiana University, currently gearing up for March Madness after securing a spot in the NCAA tournament, is known as the Hoosiers, as are the school’s other sports programs. And “Hoosiers” is the title of a classic 1986 movie about a small-town Indiana high school basketball team that fights its way to the state finals.