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Pence victory keeps GOP in governor’s office

Gov. Mike Pence

Gov. Mike Pence

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Updated: December 8, 2012 6:21AM



INDIANAPOLIS — Republican Mike Pence won election Tuesday as Indiana governor, extending his party’s control of the state’s top office.

Pence defeated Democrat John Gregg by a margin that was significantly less than what Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney captured to carry the state.

“Tomorrow a season of service begins,” Pence told supporters in declaring victory. “I will work every day to earn your trust as we build a more prosperous future for all the people of our state.”

Pence’s victory followed a campaign in which he started as the better-known candidate and had a strong fundraising advantage in the race to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels.

With about 90 percent of the statewide vote tallied, Pence had about 50 percent of the vote to about 46 percent for Gregg. That compared with about 55 percent for GOP presidential candidate Romney, who carried the state.

Pence has been in Congress for the past 12 years, gaining national prominence as a social conservative. He focused his campaign on economic issues and brushed off attacks suggesting that he will push contentious social issues, even as he proposed using traditional marriage as a tool to reduce poverty and improve the economy.

Gregg, a former Indiana House speaker, positioned himself as a candidate who would bring a bipartisan approach to the governor’s office.

That appealed to Jordan Fischer, 25, of Indianapolis, who said he was worried about most of his friends leaving the state after college.

“I found Pence to be very divisive,” Fischer said. “I found his stance on most social issues to be disagreeable.”

But Daniels’ popularity after his eight years as governor boosted Pence among some voters.

“A lot of it for me is feeling comfortable with Pence continuing to carry on the initiatives put in place by Gov. Daniels,” said Joe Reece, a 34-year-old software salesman who was in line when the polls opened at his precinct on the north side of Indianapolis.

Republicans entered Tuesday’s election holding strong majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.

Republicans were looking to win a supermajority in the 100-member Indiana House so they could conduct business even if no Democrats are present. That push follows walkouts by House Democrats the past two years to stall action on the GOP-backed right-to-work law and other labor and education proposals.

Republicans had a 60-40 House advantage the past two years and need to win 67 seats to gain the two-thirds majority to thwart walkout threats from Democrats. Republicans hoped to maintain the supermajority they have in the state Senate.

Republicans won at least two House seats from Democrats, defeating Democratic Rep. Phil Pflum of Richmond and capturing an open seat given up by retiring Democratic Rep. Craig Fry of Mishawaka. In a matchup of two incumbents in southwestern Indiana, Democratic Rep. Kreg Battles of Vincennes held an 89-vote advantage over Republican Rep. Bruce Borders of Jasonville out of nearly 25,000 votes cast in District 45.

Pence voted Tuesday morning at a fire station in his hometown of Columbus, where he was joined by his 18-year-old daughter, Audrey, a senior in high school who was casting her first ballot.

“I felt pretty good about her vote this morning. ... She did give me a high five when she came out of the voting booth, so I’m feeling pretty confident about her,” Pence said with a laugh.



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