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Columbus native now in position of influence

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THE city of Columbus is about to add another slogan to its welcoming messages: birthplace of a governor of Indiana.

In some respects that slogan is historic. With his win in the race for governor in Tuesday’s election, U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., has claimed an office that had proved unattainable for a number of others with close ties to the city in the past.

While some might look upon this victory as a potential bonanza for Columbus and Bartholomew County, it is likely that the greatest benefits for the local area would come mostly through name association.

Columbus has been blessed with individuals in positions of influence in the past — one of the most notable being former state Sen. Robert Garton, a Republican who served as president pro tem of the Indiana Senate for 26 years and was able to steer a number of major projects affecting this community to passage.

But that was his role as a representative of this area. As the incoming chief executive for all of Indiana’s 92 counties, Pence must maintain a posture of total representation.

For now, this election has to be seen for what it was — a major personal accomplishment by a man who has steadily climbed a ladder of success for more than a decade. Many political pundits suggest that there are more steps in that ladder yet to be climbed.

This latest achievement is noteworthy in the manner that it was attained.

Compared to a number of other races in Indiana and across the country, the Pence campaign was conducted in a positive manner. Absent were the sleazy advertising tactics adopted by candidates in both parties. Pence advertisements came to be seen as a welcome break from the mud-slinging that characterized the messages for U.S. Senate candidates Richard Mourdock and Joe Donnelly.

He alluded to that “clean” tactic Tuesday. “We ran a positive campaign about the future and worked hard to build a base of volunteers across the state.”

Some will argue that the governor-elect was able to conduct this kind of clean campaign because of the comfortable margin he enjoyed in pre-election polls all year long.

It is important to recognize, however, that the six-term U.S. representative came into this race with high approval ratings from his constituents in his previous races for the House seat. It is obvious that his popularity and his message resonated with a majority of voters in the district.

In the U.S. House, he became a national figure and earlier this year was repeatedly mentioned as a viable candidate for the Republican nomination for president. He became a well-known spokesman for the conservative movement and drew praise from those within that group who saw him as “the real thing.”

Apparently, there are a significant number of Hoosiers who saw the same thing.

Said one of his supporters at the victory celebration Tuesday night, “I just think he’s an honest guy.”

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