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Mike Pence Passes on Presidential Bid

Mike Pence Passes on Presidential Bid

By Erin McPike - January 27, 2011

Indiana Rep. Mike Pence will not run for president in 2012, the Indianapolis Star reported Thursday.

"In the choice between seeking national office and serving Indiana in some capacity, we choose Indiana," the 51-year-old GOP congressman wrote in a letter to supporters.

Sources in the state told RealClearPolitics last week that Pence’s team was told to expect a gubernatorial bid. Though Pence did not make it clear Thursday that he’s officially in the race for governor, he is planning to appear throughout the state at Lincoln Day Dinners with county Republican groups.

Pence has been the subject of several draft movements by conservative groups, which upped his national profile as he gave passing consideration to a presidential bid.

GOP leadership sources consider the congressman’s past history in fundraising to be somewhat lackluster, and he would have had less than $500,000 in the bank with which to mount a presidential bid. A state statute passed last year prohibits him from raising money for a gubernatorial bid until the state legislature closes its session in late April. He can, however, funnel the money he currently has into a state campaign pot for a run for governor.

Mark Helmke, a senior adviser to Indiana Republican Sen. Dick Lugar, said the senior senator met with Pence recently and urged him to run for governor. Lugar is up for re-election in 2012 and has been something of a target to the tea party, which supports Pence. With Pence in the governor’s race as opposed to the Senate race, Lugar would have one less potential primary foe to worry about.

Term-limited Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels urged politicians in the state not to announce their plans for the next campaign cycle during the legislative session. Daniels, who is a decade older than Pence and who has been a political player in Indiana for more than three decades, may decide this spring to seek the White House. Had Pence and Daniels both shot for the White House, the current governor may have had more support throughout the Hoosier State.

Political watchers agree Pence will be a prohibitive favorite for governor next year should he choose to run. Despite having closed the door on a White House run in 2012, if Pence wins the governorship he'd be well-positioned to launch a presidential bid in 2016 or 2020.

Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at emcpike@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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