Mike Pence

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Mike Pence
Mike Pence, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
50th Governor of Indiana
Assumed office
January 14, 2013
Lieutenant Sue Ellspermann
Preceded by Mitch Daniels
Chairman of the House Republican Conference
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Adam Putnam
Succeeded by Jeb Hensarling
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6th district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Dan Burton
Succeeded by Luke Messer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by David McIntosh
Succeeded by Chris Chocola
Personal details
Born Michael Richard Pence
(1959-06-07) June 7, 1959 (age 56)
Columbus, Indiana, U.S.
Political party Republican
Residence Governor's Residence
Education History (B.A.), Law (J.D.)
Alma mater Hanover College
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Religion Evangelicalism[1]
Website Official website

Michael Richard "Mike" Pence (born June 7, 1959) is an American politician and attorney who has served as the 50th Governor of Indiana since 2013. A member of the Republican Party, he previously represented Indiana's 2nd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013 and served as Chairman of the House Republican Conference from 2009 to 2011.[2]

Pence was mentioned as a possible candidate for President of the United States in 2008 and 2012.[3] In September 2010, Pence was the top choice for President in a straw poll conducted by the Value Voters Summit.[4] Pence, a former Democrat who has been compared to Ronald Reagan, has been mentioned by analysts as a potential candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2016.[5][6][7]

Early life, education, and family[edit]

Pence was born in Columbus, Indiana, one of six children of Nancy Jane (née Cawley) and Edward J. Pence, Jr., who ran a string of gas stations.[8][9] His maternal family was of Irish Catholic descent.[1] He was named after his grandfather, Richard Michael Cawley, a Chicago bus driver who came to the United States from Ireland through Ellis Island.[10] He graduated from Columbus North High School in 1977. Pence earned a B.A. in History from Hanover College in 1981 and a J.D. from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1986. While at Hanover, Pence joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, serving as his chapter's president.[citation needed]

Pence and his wife Karen have three children: Michael, Charlotte, and Audrey. Pence is a declared Christian. During his service in the U.S. House, the Pence family lived in Arlington, Virginia when Congress was in session.[citation needed]


After graduating from Hanover, Pence served as an admissions counselor at the college from 1981 to 1983.[11] Pence worked as an attorney in private practice upon graduating from law school in 1986.[12] He continued to practice law following his second run for congress, when in 1991, he became the president of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a self-described free-market think tank and a member of the State Policy Network.[13] Pence held this position until 1994, when he began a career in talk radio. Pence hosted The Mike Pence Show based in WRCR-FM in Rushville, which was syndicated by Network Indiana and aired weekdays 9 a.m. to noon (ET) on 18 stations throughout the state including WIBC in Indianapolis.[14] Additionally, Pence hosted a weekend political talk show out of Indianapolis from 1995 to 1999.[15][16]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


Pence ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1988 and 1990, losing to longtime Democratic incumbent Phil Sharp with an endorsement from President Ronald Reagan.

In 2000, Pence was elected after six-year incumbent David M. McIntosh opted to run for governor of Indiana. His first term in Congress began in January 2001. The 6th District comprises all or portions of 19 counties in eastern Indiana, and was numbered as the 2nd District during his first term in Congress. He was re-elected four more times by comfortable margins. In the 2006 House elections, he defeated Democrat Barry Welsh. He was listed as one of the top ten legislators by Esquire magazine in 2008.[17]

In 2010, Pence was encouraged to run against incumbent Democratic Senator Evan Bayh.[18][19][20] Pence led Senator Bayh by a 3 point margin according to Rasmussen polling done on January 21 and 24, 2010.[21] On January 26, 2010, in an open letter to friends and supporters through his social media Facebook, Pence announced his decision not to run for the Senate; he cited his role in the Republican leadership and the belief that Republicans would win back the House in 2010 as his reasons for staying in the House of Representatives.[22] On November 8, 2006, Mike Pence announced his candidacy for leader of the Republican Party (minority leader) in the United States House of Representatives.[23]

Pence's release announcing his run for minority leader focused on a "return to the values" of the 1994 Republican Revolution.[24] On November 17, Pence lost to Representative John Boehner of Ohio by a vote of 168–27–1 (the one vote went to Representative Joe Barton of Texas).[25]

Pence defeated Reverend Barry Welsh in the 2008 House election. Pence was elected by his GOP colleagues to become the Republican Conference Chairman, the third-highest-ranking Republican leadership position. He ran unopposed and was elected unanimously. He is the first representative from Indiana to hold a House leadership position since 1981.[2]

After the 2010 election, Pence announced that he would not run for re-election as the committee's chair.[26] On May 5, 2011, Pence announced that he would seek the Republican nomination for Governor of Indiana in 2012.[27][28] Pence's announcement was anticipated by his resignation of his leading position in the GOP caucus in the House.


Pence served for a time as the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative House Republicans.

His Committee assignments in the U.S. House included: Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia (Vice Chair), Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution (Vice Chair), and Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet. While in Congress he belonged to the Congressional Internet Caucus, International Conservation Caucus, Sportsmen's Caucus, and the Tea Party Caucus.


Pence was a cosponsor of a Spending Limit Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This amendment would limit federal spending to one-fifth of the American economy – the historical average since World War II.[29]


Pence was a supporter of earmark reform. He voted against the $139.7 billion transportation-treasury spending bill in June 2006, and in favor of a series of amendments proposed that same month by Jeff Flake that would strip other members’ earmarks from the federal budget. Pence, on occasion, secured earmark projects such as $500,000 for the “Transit Acquisition and Intermodal Facility Project” in his state, as well as $250,000 for construction of a park in Portland. Pence secured earmarks for inclusion in a labor-health and human services 2007FY bill. This included $200,000 for both Ball State University’s Center for School Innovation in Muncie and to the Madison County Community Health Center in Anderson. Pence also secured $100,000 for Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus.[30]

First Amendment[edit]

Pence has opposed the restoration of the Fairness Doctrine, as he believes that it would "censor the airwaves of American talk radio and American Christian radio".[31] The doctrine has not been in effect since 1987 and in 2011, was formally removed from the FCC guidelines by the FCC.

Immigration laws[edit]

In June 2006, Pence unveiled a plan he describes as "no amnesty immigration reform" consisting of increased border security, followed by strict enforcement of laws against hiring illegal aliens, and a guest worker program. This guest worker program requires potential participants to apply from their home country to government-approved job placement agencies that match workers with employers who cannot find Americans for the job.[32] The plan has received support from conservative leaders such as Dick Armey.[33] Pat Buchanan described this as "stealth amnesty," claiming that it is merely a "one week vacation" for illegal immigrants to return to their home country to apply for jobs under the program.[34] Others (Phyllis Schlafly and Tom Tancredo) have criticized Pence's plan.[35][36]


Pence has referred to Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin's findings that throughout history, societal collapse was brought about by the deterioration of marriage and family.[37] He has advocated a constitutional same-sex marriage ban, but did not champion such a proposed ban for his first year as governor.[38]


Pence supported the joint resolution authorizing military action against Iraq, otherwise known as the Iraq Resolution.[39] The resolution cited factors including Iraq's noncompliance with the conditions of the 1991 ceasefire agreement, including interference with U.N. weapons inspectors, Iraq's "brutal repression of its civilian population," and Iraq's hostility towards the United States as demonstrated by the 1993 assassination attempt on former President George H. W. Bush and firing on coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones following the 1991 Gulf War as reasons for taking action.[40]

During the Iraq War, he opposed setting a public withdrawal date from Iraq. During an April 2007 visit to Baghdad, Pence and John McCain visited Shorja market, the site of a deadly attack in February, 2007, that claimed the lives of 61 people. During the visit, Pence and Senator John McCain were accompanied by General David Petraeus. Pence and McCain described the visit as evidence that the security situation in Iraqi markets have improved.[41] The visit was criticized by the New York Times as giving a false indication of how secure the area was due to the extremely heavy security forces McCain brought with him. The visit to the market took place under large security including helicopters overhead.[42]

Mike Pence has opposed closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and trying the suspected terrorists in the U.S.[43] Pence believes that “the Obama administration must overturn this wrongheaded decision”.[43] As an alternative, Pence has said that the "enemy combatants" should be tried in a military tribunal.[43]

He has stated his support of Israel and its right to attack facilities in Iran to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons, has defended the actions of Israel in its use of deadly force in enforcing the blockade of Gaza and has referred to Israel as "America's most cherished ally".[44]

LGBT Rights[edit]

In 2000, Pence stated “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual's [sic][45] as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.” He called for “an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus” and instead advocated that resources be directed towards conversion therapy programs.[46][47][48]

He has commented that homosexuals should not serve in the military, stating "Homosexuality is incompatible with military service because the presence of homosexuals in the ranks weakens unit cohesion" and in 2010 stated that repealing Don't ask, don't tell would "have an impact on unit cohesion."[49] Pence opposed the 2009 Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act stating that Obama would "advance a radical social agenda"[50] and said that pastors "could be charged or be subject to intimidation for simply expressing a Biblical worldview on the issue of homosexual behavior."[51]


Pence is an advocate of federal restrictions of online gambling. In 2006, he along with 34 others cosponsored H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act[52] and H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.[53]

In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina struck the Louisiana coast, Pence favored offsetting the costs of the hurricane with $24 billion in other spending reductions.[54]

After the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Affordable Care Act on June 28, 2012 he was quoted by sources at a closed door meeting as likening the ruling upholding the Democratic health care law to the September 11 terrorist attacks.[55] He immediately apologized for making the statement.[56]

Governor of Indiana[edit]

2012 election[edit]

On May 5, 2011, Pence announced that he would be seeking the Republican nomination for Governor of Indiana in 2012.[57] On November 6, 2012, he won the gubernatorial election,[58] defeating Democratic nominee John R. Gregg and Libertarian nominee Rupert Boneham. Incumbent Republican Governor Mitch Daniels was term-limited.


Governor Mike Pence speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland on February 27, 2015.

Pence began his first term as the 50th Governor of Indiana on January 14, 2013.

In late 2014, Philip Rucker of The Washington Post noted Pence's "relatively thin record as governor", which was because the previous governor, Mitch Daniels, "already had cut taxes, balanced the budget and spurred economic development."[59]


Pence made tax reform, namely a 10% income-tax rate cut, a priority for 2013.[59][60] While he did not get the 10% cut he advocated, Pence did accomplish his goal of cutting state taxes.[59] Legislators cut the income tax by 5% and also killed the inheritance tax.[59] Speaker of the House Brian Bosma said of the deal, “What we ended up doing was putting together a collective tax package that results in the largest tax cut in our state’s history, about $1.1 billion dollars.”[61]

On June 12, 2013, the Indiana legislature overturned Pence's veto of a bill that would retroactively authorize a local tax. Lawmakers overrode the governor's veto in a 68—23 vote in the House and a 34–12 one in the Senate.[62] With an interesting twist, Republican legislators overwhelmingly voted against Pence, while most Democrats supported his veto.[63] The Jackson-Pulaski tax fix, one of three bills vetoed by the Governor during the session, addressed a 15-year-old county income tax which had been imposed to fund the construction of jail facilities with the stipulation that the tax be lowered by 1% after the first several years. The reduction was not implemented and thus county residents paid an additional 1% tax that they were legally not required to pay. The bill, which was passed by a huge majority of legislators and subsequently vetoed by Pence, allowed money to be kept and not returned to the tax payers as would have otherwise been necessary.[64]

Pence’s communications director Christy Denault, said that he “stands by [his] veto, and regret[s] that it was not upheld by the Indiana General Assembly today. While this bill contained some positive provisions, the Governor believes that when Hoosiers pay taxes that are not owed, they should be offered relief. Hoosiers can be assured that Governor Pence and his administration will continue to put taxpayers first.”[63] Republicans argued that the veto itself would be unfair for taxpayers as state tax payers had to make up the money spent on calculating refunds to the tax payers in Jackson and Pulaski Counties. The bill also included tax breaks and benefits for veterans and veteran families that many legislators were unwilling to see vetoed. “Sustaining this veto will be a tax increase on the innocent spouses of disabled (and) deceased veterans, a tax increase through no fault of their own,” said Republican District 7 State Senator Brandt Hershman “Sustaining the veto will be a vote against the innocent taxpayers in Pulaski and Jackson counties who still regardless of our action here ... have to fund a jail.”[63]

During Pence's first term as Governor, he was criticized for censoring comments on his official government Facebook page.[65]


Mike Pence at the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade, 2015

On January 26, 2015 it was widely reported that Pence had planned to launch a state-run, taxpayer funded news service for Indiana.[66] The service, called "JustIN" was to be overseen by a former reporter for the Indianapolis Star, and would feature breaking news, stories written by press secretaries, and light features.[66] At the time, it was reported that the two employees who would run the news service would be paid a combined $100,000 yearly salary.[66] The target audience was small newspapers that had limited staff, but the site would also serve to communicate directly with the public. The idea was met with revulsion both by small Indiana newspapers, and by the national news media. The publisher of the Portland Commercial Review said, "I think it's a ludicrous idea . . . the notion of elected officials presenting material that will inevitably have a pro-administration point of view is antithetical to the idea of an independent press."[66] Many news stories compared the new JustIN service to state-run news agencies in Russia, China, and North Korea.[67] There was speculation that the news service would publish pro-administration stories that would make Pence look good in the event of a presidential run.[68]

It was especially surprising coming from Pence because of his history in radio, and his former role as a media advocate in Congress, when he supported shield laws protecting confidentiality of media sources, and opposed the Fairness Doctrine, which would have given the government more control over political speech.[69] The Atlantic regarded the announcement of JustIN as evidence of a disturbing changing trend in how the public gets news.[67] After a week or so of controversy about the idea, Pence scrapped the idea saying, "However well intentioned, after thorough review of the preliminary planning and careful consideration of the concerns expressed, I am writing you to inform you that I have made a decision to terminate development of the JustIN website immediately."[70]

Religious Freedom Restoration Act[edit]
Main article: Indiana SB 101

On March 26, 2015, Pence signed Indiana Senate Bill 101, also known as the Indiana "religious objections" bill, into law.[71] The law's signing was met with widespread criticism by people and groups who felt the law was carefully worded in a way that would permit discrimination against LGBT persons.[72][73][74][75] Such organizations as the NCAA, the gamer convention Gen Con, and the Disciples of Christ spoke out against the law. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff condemned the law, with Salesforce.com saying it would halt its plans to expand in the state.[76][77] Angie's List announced that they would cancel a $40 million expansion of their Indianapolis based headquarters due to concerns over the law. The expansion would have moved 1000 jobs into the state. The mayors of San Francisco and Seattle banned official travel to Indiana.[78] Thousands protested against the policy.[72] Five GOP state representatives voted against the bill, and Greg Ballard, the Republican mayor of Indianapolis, criticized it as sending the "wrong signal" about the state.[79]

Pence repeatedly defended the law, stating that it was not about discrimination. In an appearance on the ABC News program This Week with George Stephanopoulos,[80] Pence stated, "We are not going to change this law."[81] Pence denied the law permitted discrimination and wrote in a March 31, 2015 Wall Street Journal op-ed, "If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn’t eat there anymore. As governor of Indiana, if I were presented a bill that legalized discrimination against any person or group, I would veto it."[82]

Due to the backlash against the RFRA, on April 2, 2015 Pence signed legislation revising the law to prevent potential discrimination.[83]

Electoral history[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


Indiana's 6th Congressional District Election (2002)
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Pence 118,436 63.79
Democratic Melina Ann Fox 63,871 34.40
Libertarian Doris Robertson 3,346 1.80
Total votes 185,653 100.00
Voter turnout  %
Republican hold


Indiana's 6th Congressional District Election (2004)
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Pence* 182,529 67.09
Democratic Melina Ann Fox 85,123 31.29
Libertarian Chad (Wick) Roots 4,397 1.62
Total votes 272,049 100.00
Voter turnout  %
Republican hold


Indiana's 6th Congressional District Election (2006)
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Pence* 115,266 60.01
Democratic Barry A. Welsh 76,812 39.99
Total votes 192,078 100.00
Voter turnout  %
Republican hold


Indiana's 6th Congressional District Election (2008)
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Pence* 180,549 63.96
Democratic Barry A. Welsh 94,223 33.38
Libertarian George T. Holland 7,534 2.67
Total votes 282,306 100.00
Voter turnout  %
Republican hold


Indiana's 6th Congressional District Election (2010)
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Pence* 126,027 66.57
Democratic Barry A. Welsh 56,647 29.92
Libertarian Talmage "T.J." Thompson, Jr. 6,635 3.51
Total votes 189,309 100.00
Voter turnout 41%
Republican hold

As Governor of Indiana[edit]


Republican Indiana gubernatorial election primary in Indiana, 2012[84]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Pence 554,412 100
Total votes 554,412 100
2012 Indiana gubernatorial election[85]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Mike Pence / Sue Ellspermann 1,264,877 49.62% -8.22%
Democratic John Gregg / Vi Simpson 1,183,213 46.42% +6.38%
Libertarian Rupert Boneham / Brad Klopfenstein 101,028 3.96% +1.84%
No party Donnie Harold Harris / George Fish (write-in) 34 0%
Margin of victory 81,664 3.20% -14.61%
Turnout 2,549,152 57.81% -2.08%
Republican hold Swing


 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Mike Pence Official Biography".

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External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
David McIntosh
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Chris Chocola
Preceded by
Dan Burton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
Luke Messer
Party political offices
Preceded by
Sue Myrick
Chairman of the Republican Study Committee
Succeeded by
Jeb Hensarling
Preceded by
Adam Putnam
Chairman of the House Republican Conference
Preceded by
Mitch Daniels
Republican nominee for Governor of Indiana
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Mitch Daniels
Governor of Indiana