Mike Pence was elected governor of Indiana in November 2012 almost under the radar. Other events attracted more attention, particularly the state’s Senate race, which attracted national attention after Richard Mourdock, the Republican nominee, knocked off six-term senator Richard Lugar in the GOP primary and then threw away any chance of winning by saying that pregnancies stemming from rape are “something that God intended to happen.” Then there was Mitch Daniels, Indiana’s popular two-term governor, whose legacy hovered over Pence as he campaigned. Pence had no catchy campaign slogans, only talk of taking the Hoosier state from “good to great” and “from reform to results.”
Before his run for the governorship, though, Pence had turned heads. The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol urged him to run for president in 2012. So did Club for Growth president Chris Chocola and FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe, two prominent free-market leaders. Pence is a favorite of social conservatives, too. He is perhaps best known for his oft-repeated statement that he is “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican — in that order.” At the Value Voters Summit in 2010, he won the straw poll for both president and vice president. Frequently mentioned as a dark-horse candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, he is among a handful of Republican governors Mitt Romney said he’d like to see vie for it.