Pence moves quickly to name transition to Statehouse
By Rick Yencer
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Gov.-elect Mike Pence wasted no time Wednesday naming a transition team including Muncie industrialist Van Smith to move into the Statehouse with Republican super majorities in the Indiana House and Senate.
On Pence's agenda will be that 10 percent cut in personal income taxes besides tagging along with Republican lawmakers' agenda of banning same sex marriage and abortion in the Indiana Constitution.
A meeting with Gov. Mitch Daniels was the stage for Pence to talk about his victory over Democrat John Gregg and plan the succession of power in January.
Smith, a former chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and chairman of Pence's campaign committee, will join Pence's chief of staff Bill Smith, along with Daniels' chief of staff Earl Goode, along with Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and Lt. Gov. to be Sue Ellspermann to lead the new administration to take over state government.
Skillman already runs over $1 billion worth of state services while Goode oversees much of the rest.
Bill Smith has been Pence's longtime sidekick both on Capital Hill besides a trusted campaign advisor. And he has a knack for getting people together and getting things done. That's also the resume of Van Smith who ran Ontario Corp. and worked with the late Muncie Mayor James P. Carey in building a new city hall and seeing through operation of the downtown convention center.
Later in the week, Pence brought in more heavyweights of business and industry representing health care, educations and sports.
Jim Morris, president of Pacers Sports and Entertainment, and a former chief of staff to then Mayor Richard Lugar, was tapped along with Ryan Kitchell, chief financial officer at IU Health and President of IU Health Plans. He also was a finance and management and budget director for Gov, Mitch Daniels.
Gary Hobbs, president of BWI, a development, property management and construction company, and Fred Klipsch, chairman and CEO of Klipsch Group, also are on board. Klipsch also was treasurer of Pence's campaign.
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma of Indianapolis also wasted no time Wednesday introducing 19 new House Republicans that ensured a super majority of 69-31. Among the nine House Democrats that were swept out Tuesday included Rep. Phil Pflum, D-Milton, along former Fort Wayne Mayor Win Moses, and Rep. Peggy Welsh of Bloomington.
Of course, Muncie Democrat Sue Errington is returning to the Legislature after Tuesday big victory over Republican Brad Oliver. She left the Senate in 2010, beaten by Good Government guy and now Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, that created a super majority there. And now she returns to a historic new super majority in the House.
Errington was gleeful upon winning Tuesday night, but somewhat depressed Wednesday when informed by the media that Republicans no longer needed Democrats to conduct business in the House. That two-party model caused a walkout two years ago over Right to Work legislation, but it just passed, and now House Republicans want to get rid of common construction wages besides paycheck dues deductions.
At a local labor meeting Wednesday, Errington said she was looking for ideas to be a voice at the Statehouse when Republicans don't even need Democrats to show up for a vote. While Bosma said he wanted to work with Democrats who wanted to work with Republicans.
Errington saw room for compromise but was still concerned about how to deal with the new super majority.