As Rep. Mike Pence moves away from running for re-election in the House and toward a gubernatorial bid, Hoosier State Republicans are lining up not only for his 6th district seat, but they also are looking at surrounding districts and the Senate race.
In Pence’s Muncie-based district, Republicans began preparing for an open-seat race as early as last summer.
Matt Strittmatter, a Pence supporter who was term-limited out of his job as Wayne County sheriff at the end of 2010, opened a federal campaign account and started taking donations in June. Now working as a consultant for a company that provides health care for prisoners, Strittmatter had $39,000 on hand at the end of 2010. Ron Arnold Consulting, an Indiana-based firm run by a former Pence campaign manager, is working on his bid.
“We’re doing a combination of everything,” Strittmatter told Roll Call after Pence announced he would not run for president last week.
“We’re meeting with people one-on-one, we’re reaching out by telephone and we’re also meeting with small groups and introducing me to them,” Strittmatter said, adding he’d make a formal announcement about his campaign after Pence makes his final decision.
Though Strittmatter is the only candidate who is talking openly about his bid, others are thinking seriously about it. Former Rep. David McIntosh, now a registered lobbyist at Mayer Brown in Washington, D.C., has been mentioned for the race. He represented a previous version of the district from 1994 to 2000, when he lost a run for governor.
McIntosh lives in Virginia with his family, but he still rents a home in Indiana and goes back to help candidates when they ask. He said he has offered to help Pence with a gubernatorial bid but hasn’t thought much about running for office himself.
“I really do think we’ve gotta honor what Mike’s thinking about, give him the time to think through his options and make a clear decision before,” McIntosh told Roll Call. He said running for the House in Indiana would mean big changes for his family, since his children are in school in Virginia.
Nate LaMar, president of the Henry County Council, is making moves toward a bid, introducing himself to local activists. Other Republicans who have run for office in Indiana recently may look at the House seat. On that list are Don Bates Jr., who lost to now-Sen. Dan Coats in the 2010 Senate primary, and former state Rep. Luke Messer, who lost to nearby Rep. Dan Burton in the 2010 House primary.