These are all moves that reflect Pence’s recognition that it is now his Republican Party and his state, operating under the budget that he signed. The credit and the criticism now falls onto his shoulders.
Now that he’s made it through the transition, the reality that to the victor in governor’s races goes the spoils is also becoming clear.
Pence last week appointed four new members to the Indiana University board of trustees. Among them was Randall Tobias, who gave Pence’s gubernatorial campaign more than $35,000 in 2012 and gave Pence another $10,000 in May.
In a purely political sense, how he handles selecting a new state Republican chairman is a critical decision.
His party has reached extraordinary heights in Indiana, controlling supermajorities in the House and Senate, as well as seven of nine congressional seats and every statewide elected office except one (state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz is a Democrat).
Selecting the next state party chair is an opportunity for Pence to solidify his status as the top Republican dog and to put someone in place who can run the party and defend its values the way he’d envision.
As Holcomb’s replacement is selected, there are a number of variables, such as whether Republicans want a full-time chair, such as Holcomb, or a part-time one, like his predecessor, Murray Clark.
For now, though, all eyes are on Pence.
— Eric Bradner is the Statehouse reporter for the Evansville Courier & Press.