The Daily Fix

Donald Trump selected Gov. Mike Pence to be his running mate.

Gary Varvel

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made history when he used Twitter to announce Indiana Gov. Mike Pence would become his running mate. But then, this election has been one for the history books from the start.

The shuffling began when Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann resigned March 2 to pursue a new job as president of Ivy Tech Community College, a job she began on July 1.

She was replaced by Eric Holcomb, a former chief of staff for Sen. Dan Coats who had been vying for Coats' seat in the Senate.

And now Holcomb, who has been lieutenant governor for less than five months, is hoping to be elected governor in November.

U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks used Friday's deadline to withdraw her candidacy for re-election so she could run for governor.

Munster native Todd Rokita, the former secretary of state now in the U.S. House of Representatives, also announced Friday he would rather run for governor than Congress.

House Speaker Brian Bosma had been talked about as a potential gubernatorial candidate, but he withdrew his name from the running shortly after Trump's announcement Friday morning. As leader of the House, Bosma is one of the most politically powerful people in the state.

And that's just on the Republican side.

Among Democrats, there also have been changes, but not as many. 

Former U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, in an uphill battle against U.S. Rep. Todd Young for Coats' seat in the Senate, withdrew so former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh could seek his old seat.

Bayh announced at the last minute in 2010 he would not run for re-election.

So let's read the tea leaves for what all these moves could mean.

Trump-Pence

With Pence as his running mate, Trump gains someone whose strengths are a bulwark against Trump's weaknesses, at least where it comes to being seen as conservative.

Pence is a social conservative. Anyone who didn't believe him when he said so hasn't paid attention to what Pence did in the U.S. House of Representatives or what he has done in the governor's office.

Whether that's a strength or a weakness depends on your perspective. But to gain votes from social conservatives, Trump needed someone like Pence.

Pence also has the knowledge of how Congress works — and the necessary connection with Speaker Paul Ryan — to help Trump understand how government works. It's one thing to be on the outside interacting with the government as a private citizen and another to be on the inside, seeing how the machinery really works.

But Pence has helped polarize Indiana. After the right-to-work law passed and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act went through, then quickly was amended under pressure from the business community and others, a movement to oust Pence began even before it became general knowledge that Democrat John Gregg would run against Pence again. Signs in yards proclaimed, "Fire Pence."

And now Pence, if elected, would be just one step away the Oval Office.

Indiana has a long history of offering vice presidents, although only one truly Hoosier president was elected. We'll see where history will take us this year and beyond.

Senate race

Evan Bayh's entry in the Indiana U.S. Senate race means it's now seen as a virtual dead heat. What happens in the presidential race could well affect the balance of power in the Senate.

Here's the scenario: Trump, who has made bombastic remarks that women and minorities have taken as insults, might be defeated in November. Hillary Clinton, who has her own negatives, would then be elected.

And if a Democratic wave happens, Bayh and four other Democrats could be elected to the Senate. That would return the Senate to Democratic control as well as giving Indiana two Democratic senators.

So Bayh's prospects against Republican Todd Young depend on the presidential race almost as much as it does on his name recognition as a moderate senator and governor in the past.

As a bit of historical trivia, Bayh could become the second person in the history of the U.S. Senate to twice succeed the same person. Coats held the seat before Bayh when Bayh was first elected to the Senate.

One other repeat: Bayh worked for a lobbying firm before seeking to run for the Senate again. Coats did the same thing.

Governor's race

For Democrat John Gregg, it could have been worse. Gregg, who has been campaigning as being more like former Gov. Mitch Daniels than Pence is, could have faced the real thing. Fortunately for Gregg, Daniels decided to stay at Purdue and not seek his old job.

But for now, Gregg and his running mate, Christina Hale, face uncertainty regarding who their Republican opponents will be. Here's the chance for Gregg and Hale, a Michigan City native, to emphasize their own policy initiatives and what they stand for. Running against Pence's record doesn't matter as much now that Pence is out of the running.

Before Pence was tapped to become Trump's running mate, the governor's race was a virtual dead heat. We'll have to wait to see who the state's Republican leaders — including Valparaiso's Chuck Williams — select to see how this race might shake out.

Either way, 2016 has become one for the history books. We just have to wait and see what history will be written after the Nov. 8 election.

Politics/History Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or Doug.Ross@nwi.com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/doug.ross1 and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinions are the writer's.

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Porter/LaPorte County Editor

Porter/LaPorte Editor Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.