Dark horse watch: Mike Pence

Keep your eyes on Mike Pence, governor of Indiana and 6-term member of Congress, where he was elected conference chairman and chaired the Republican Study Committee, the caucus of House conservatives. He is one of the most promising members of the 2016 GOP potential field. The left certainly has its eyes on him. Consider this hit piece in Politico yesterday, attempting to label him the Koch Brothers’ candidate. The left always tells you who it fears:

Mike Pence's Koch advantage
By: Kenneth P. Vogel and Maggie Haberman
August 28, 2014 05:13 AM EDT

If Mike Pence dd David Koch.ecides to run for president, he could enter the race with a big advantage from a very important place: Koch World.
The Indiana governor is getting a closer look as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, and there’s a growing sense among GOP operatives that he has a leg up over other contenders when it comes to winning the favor of the political network fronted by the billionaire conservative megadonors Charles an

A number of Pence’s former staffers from his days in Congress have assumed major roles in the brothers’ corporate and political spheres. And Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs’ top political group, has been holding up Pence’s work in Indiana as emblematic of a conservative reform agenda they’re trying to take nationwide.

Indiana has prospered under Pence’s leadership, and his tax-cutting ways have drawn many businesses, especially from neighboring high-tax Illinois, President Obama’s chosen home state, and Hillary Clinton’s actual home state. Moreover, Pence is a very good communicator, having cut his political teeth as a radio talk show host. And as foreign policy looms as a potential crisis point under Obama’s faltering leadership (if it can be called that), Pence’s deep experience on the House Foreign Affairs Committee will be a considerable plus. Experienced in domestic and foreign policy, a Washington insider who left to run a state very effectively as a governor.

Pence is nowhere near declaring his candidacy, but he is giving signs of moving in that direction. Robert Costa writes in the Washington Post:

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), a conservative favorite, will soon visit Iowa to support the re-election campaign of the state’s governor.

Pence’s trip, set for Sept. 8, is the latest sign that he is considering a 2016 presidential bid.

Pence will be the keynote speaker at a Des Moines luncheon for Gov. Terry Branstad (R) and his running mate. Cam Sutton, a retired insurance executive, will host the event.

Three years ago, Sutton participated in an effort by a group of Iowa businessmen to draft Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) into the 2012 presidential race.  Branstad, who has served multiple terms as governor since 1983, has long been a key player in the state that holds the first nominating contest in the GOP presidential primary.

If Pence is not already on your watch list, put him there.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

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