Pence Taps Former GOP Chair Holcomb For Lt. Gov Slot

Feb 9, 2016

Credit Brandon Smith / IPBS

Former Indiana Republican Party Chair Eric Holcomb will soon have the number two job in Indiana state government. Governor Mike Pence announced Tuesday that Holcomb will take Sue Ellspermann’s seat as the state’s lieutenant governor.

Current Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann told Governor Pence of her interest in seeking the open presidency position at Ivy Tech last December. Pence began the search for her replacement soon after and says Holcomb’s background makes him a perfect fit.

“Eric Holcomb is ready, day one, to assume the duties of lieutenant governor of the state of the Indiana,” Pence says. “He knows the executive branch; he knows the legislative branch.”

Holcomb served as an advisor to former Governor Mitch Daniels and state chief of staff to Republican Senator Dan Coats. He says he looks forward to stepping into public office for the first time.

“I could not be more excited and more proud to serve this man at this time,” Holcomb says. “The state of Indiana becomes stronger by the day.”

The state House and Senate must confirm Holcomb before he officially assumes the role.  Pence says there’s no timeline for the official transition, but notes it will be “weeks, not days.” 

The State Democratic Party slammed Pence’s choice, calling it a “back room deal” that only serves to drive a partisan wedge.

The announcement comes amid rumors that Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann is leaving office after a series of policy disagreements, a claim Pence refutes.

Ellspermann indicated her interest in the open presidency position at Ivy Tech last December.  After this, rumors swirled that Ellspermann planned to step down from her post as lieutenant governor after clashing with Pence over last year’s religious freedom legislation and LGBT civil rights.  Pence says no such disagreements contributed to the change in the office.

“Did we ever have policy disagreements?” Pence asks, “Sure. It’s my own executive style. I love to get people around the table and I love to say, ‘Let’s have at it; let’s talk through it.’”

Ellspermann dismissed these rumors as well. 

The Ivy Tech Board of Trustees’ search process is still ongoing.

“But I really do think, when I said there’s a better seat on the bus, I think that’s really a true statement and I look forward to that next seat on the bus in serving Hoosiers,” Elspermann says.

Holcomb says he agrees with Pence’s record on religious freedom and LBGT rights. Holcomb says the governor struck the right tone in his State of the State address, where he said he won’t tolerate discrimination and will be on the side of religious freedom.

“He and I are focused on his agenda going forward,” Holcomb says.

The State Democratic Party says as State GOP Chair, Holcomb fanned the flames for extreme ideas and that as lieutenant governor, Hoosiers should expect nothing new.