Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) at CPAC 2015Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
Indiana Governor Mike Pence should follow U.S. Senator Joni Ernst’s lead and say no to Trump.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

I’m happy to see U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) took my advice (ok, she was getting similar advice elsewhere before her meeting with Trump). Politico reports that she has withdrawn from Donald Trump’s VEEPstakes.

“I made that very clear to him that I’m focused on Iowa. I feel that I have a lot more to do in the United States Senate. And Iowa is where my heart is,” Ernst said Wednesday. “I’m just getting started here. I have a great partner with Chuck Grassley, we’ve been able to accomplish a lot. And I think that President Trump will need some great assistance in the United States Senate and I can provide that.”

The 46-year-old Ernst, who won the critical swing state race in 2014, said she will be offering tactical advice to Trump about how to win her home state. And she is expected to give a prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention, focusing on national security, according to a source familiar with those plans.

“I will probably participate more as an advocate,” Ernst said of her role in the Trump campaign. “I would love to assist him out on the trail.”

I’d encourage her to limit her advocacy as well. I’m under no illusions that she’ll join the Never Trump camp even though I wish she would. I am happy to see that she won’t be running.

She did endorse Indiana Governor Mike Pence to be Trump’s running mate. Being a former Hoosier (lived in Northwest Indiana for six years) I’d recommend against Pence taking that call for several reasons.

  1. It’s a huge gamble. I mean YUUUUUUGE gamble. If Trump wins then Pence gets to reside at the Naval Observatory and do what Vice Presidents do which is extremely unclear what role that will be in a Trump administration. The odds are outside a complete Clinton meltdown (which I’m not writing off with yesterday’s news) Trump will probably lose the election which brings me to my next point.
  2. Reelection is going to be difficult for Pence. I really liked Pence and was happy when he won the gubernatorial election in Indiana. I really saw him as a potential presidential candidate down the road. It seems like he made a better Congressman than Governor. He has lost the trust of his primary base with a Common Core rebrand, and with caving on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This isn’t to say he hasn’t done anything good as governor, but he has some work to do. It’s a simple fact that sitting governors take political heat for running for higher office regardless of who is at the top of the ticket. If he loses he can probably kiss reelection goodbye.
  3. Focus on Indiana. Pence is only midway through his first term. He should focus on being a good governor, winning the trust of his constituents back, and strengthen his spine. Then not only will reelection be a greater possibility, but we are going to need strong conservative governors should Hillary Clinton win the White House. Pence could lead the way, and set himself up for a future White House bid.

I’ve made it pretty clear that I won’t vote for Donald Trump regardless of who he picks as his running mate. I do care that he doesn’t make certain seats more vulnerable as a result of his choice. Keeping the Senate majority is going to be tough enough with him at the top of the ticket. If he poaches a sitting U.S. Senator he better do it from a safe Republican state.  I’ll say the same with sitting Governors.  Should he lose he makes them more vulnerable, should he win then suddenly that seat is vacant.

It would be better for him to pick somebody who is term-limited or retired, and for the sake of the person who runs with him hopefully this is their last hurrah because it may be the end of their political future.

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