Pence’s veepstakes and Bayh’s Senate run put Indiana politics in national spotlight

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – To say it’s been a wacky year in Indiana politics may be an understatement.

Monday, Democrat Baron Hill dropped out of the race for U.S. Senate. Who’s stepping in? Former Indiana Governor Evan Bayh announced plans to run for his old Senate seat back.

Tuesday night, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will be in Westfield for a campaign rally. It comes as Indiana Governor Mike Pence is on his shortlist as a vice-presidential pick.

“My focus is on earning re-election as governor of this great state,” said Pence at a campaign stop in Columbus on Monday night.

That may be the line, but the speculation is hot that he will be Trump’s running mate. Pence appears more than willing.

“I’m excited to be able to campaign with Donald Trump tomorrow night here in Indiana, and frankly anywhere he asks me to campaign,” said Pence.

Pence will introduce Trump Tuesday night in Westfield. The Trump event comes as one report out of Washington said Pence has a 95% chance of being the vice-presidential nominee.

“I think it’s a very good move, a good move for Trump and for Pence,” said Pete Seat, Republican strategist.

Evan Bayh’s apparent return to politics is making headlines, too.

He will take Baron Hill’s place in the U.S. Senate race against Republican Todd Young, meaning that seat could flip the balance of power in the Senate, making Democrats the majority, if he’s victorious.

“I think Baron, first of all, is the unsung hero here. Baron just took one for the team in a major way, and it wasn’t his fault his campaign just never really caught fire,” said Jennifer Wagner, Democratic strategist.

Pence’s veepstakes and Bayh’s Senate run may not be directly connected, but then again, it’s fun to suppose.

Bayh is tight with the Clintons and his campaigning for the Senate could threaten the Republican hold on Indiana. The Trump campaign considers Indiana a must-win state, so picking Pence could be a path to victory in Indiana.

For his part Monday, Pence sounded ready to sell Indiana’s story to the nation.

“I think Donald Trump is the kind of leader and the kind of fighter who’s going to bring about the change we need in D.C, so the prosperity we’re seeing here in Indiana can be the prosperity we enjoy all across the U.S.,” said Pence.

Pence wouldn’t directly answer when asked if he’d been vetted Monday through conversations with Trump staffers. He said he hasn’t talked to Trump since they met in person two Saturdays ago.

Trump’s rally is Tuesday night at the Grand Park Events Center in Westfield at 7:30 p.m.

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