INDIANAPOLIS – A legislative effort to allow Gov. Mike Pence to run for both governor and president in 2016 was short-lived, as Senate President Pro Tem David Long on Tuesday "parked" the bill in Senate Rules Committee to die.
"You need to make up your mind," Long said. "Choose the job you are going to run for."
Under current law, Pence is not allowed to be on the ballot for two offices at once.
Long said when he ran for state Senate that he did not seek re-election to the Fort Wayne City Council because he felt the public had a right to pick who would serve.
"I feel very strongly our laws are just fine the way they are," he said. "Our leaders have chosen for years. If they want to run for an office, it’s a decision they have to make. They’ll have to let somebody else take their place. I think that’s the best system."
Earlier in the day, Pence said he did not know of the bill – filed by Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel – until he read a newspaper account.
"It seems like a well-intentioned distraction," Pence said. "It’s not on our agenda. It’s not our focus. I am completely focused on the future of the people of Indiana and this session of the General Assembly. We’ll let decisions about my future wait until the spring."
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said the bill "does not seem to me to be good public policy to give elected officials the opportunity to run for federal and state office at the same time."
Before Long dispensed with the bill, the Indiana Democratic Party criticized Pence for not denouncing the effort altogether.
"The governor’s half-baked response to questions about whether he supports Sen. Delph’s bill isn’t good enough. He appears willing to let others do his dirty work for him and refuses to get his hands dirty when it comes to his presidential ambitions or running state government," state party Chairman John Zody said.
"We don’t have time for this. He should be transparent with Hoosiers and tell us what his plans are now – and he should outright reject this overreach and get back to the business of governing."
Long said Pence doesn’t owe anyone an immediate decision on whether he will run for president.
"The governor can take his own sweet time," he said, noting former Gov. Mitch Daniels decided later than this time of year that he wouldn’t run.
"I think Gov. Pence deserves the same ability to do that without getting pressured. It’s just people trying to make a political issue out of it. I get that," Long said. "But in reality, what he’s doing is the right thing. He’s taking his time to assess whether it’s the right decision for him and for the state."