Greg Pence, the eldest brother of Vice President Mike Pence, won the Republican nomination in Indiana’s 6th District on Tuesday night, which means he’s almost certainly coming to Congress next year.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Pence had 65 percent of the vote, according to The Associated Press. His nearest challenger, entrepreneur Jonathan Lamb, took 24 percent.
The seat opened up after Republican incumbent Luke Messer decided to run for the GOP nod for Senate. Pence was the finance chairman — and initial public face — for Messer’s Senate campaign before launching his own congressional bid.
The is Pence’s first run for office, and assuming he wins the Solid Republican race in November, he’ll hold the same seat his brother held before being elected governor.
Greg Pence was a frequent presence at his brother’s side, through congressional and gubernatorial campaigns, and then the presidential race last year. On the trail in Indiana, Greg, who has the same white hair, would sometimes be mistaken for Mike. But speaking to Roll Call last summer, friends and observers couldn’t recall any specific policy expertise or campaign advice he gave his more famous brother.
The candidate didn’t directly highlight his brother in his ads during the 6th District primary, but he benefited from outside spending from groups tied to the Trump-Pence administration. That frustrated some GOP consultants whose candidates could have used the help.
“No one on the planet is more assured to win this year,” one Republican told Roll Call last month. “Here’s the one guy who doesn’t need money.”
And even though he ran on a national last name, which has been rehabilitated in Indiana by the former governor’s departure, Greg Pence didn’t speak to national or local press during the campaign. On a visit to the larger of his two antique malls, the store manger said the campaign had warned her to expect this reporter.
The two antique malls represent the older Pence brother’s largest asset holding, valued somewhere between $5 million and $25 million, according to his financial disclosure form, filed with the Clerk of the House in January.
He touted his small business background in the primary campaign.
Before getting into the antique mall business in 2006, he worked for Marathon Oil and Unocal Corporation, then became vice president of Kiel Brothers Oil Company, the family’s gas station and convenience store business. In 2004, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and Greg Pence resigned.
In 2005, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed him deputy commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Management — the very same agency that had cited Kiel Brothers for violations in the past. Greg Pence was slated to earn $91,000 a year in that job, The Indianapolis Star reported at the time, but he only lasted two and a half months before stepping down.
Pence will meet Democrat Jeannine Lake in November. Lake publishes a bimonthly newspaper in Muncie, where she recently ran into former late night host David Letterman, who then made an impromptu financial contribution to her campaign. But she is a heavy underdog in the district, which hasn’t elected a Democrat to Congress since Philip R. Sharp won a 10th term in 1992, when it was the old 2nd District.
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