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Suite night for ‘Michael’ and mom


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Editor’s note: Nancy Pence Fritsch, a columnist with The Republic and mother of Gov.-elect Mike Pence, spent Election Night with her son at Lucas Oil Stadium. She recorded her impressions The Republic.

Recollections of the mother of the governor-to-be, Michael Pence, on the night of the election.

Election night was pretty tense for Michael and his extended family. Others probably know him best as Mike, but he’s always been Michael to me.

We had gathered in a suite at Lucas Oil Stadium after the polls closed at 6 p.m.

For the next four hours, until The Associated Press had declared him the winner, Michael was collected, very calm, sometimes rather apprehensive as we watched the numbers roll across the television monitors.

It became especially tense when the spread between the two main candidates was only two points.

Throughout the evening, Michael, his wife, Karen, and their children gathered on the first level of the stadium, meeting and greeting many friends and sharing personal moments with each one of them.

Karen had given a gift to each of their children as a way of saying thanks for the way they had been so very supportive in so many ways throughout the campaign.

Then Karen, a very accomplished artist, gave Michael a special gift, her painting of the Capitol.

Some of the family members shared their thoughts about the evening. Michael’s brother, Tom Pence, noted that it was a historic night. The kind of night when we will learn about the efficacy of polling in modern-day elections and how the elections correspond with polling data.

Someone asked Tom about his impression of Michael’s race, and he responded kind of tongue-in-cheek that he thought the best man was winning.

We talked with Jacqueline Pence, the daughter of Michael’s brother Ed, about the summer that she interned in Michael’s congressional office and had the opportunity to meet many politicians.

One of her personal highlights was meeting Mitt Romney, who at the time was governor of Massachusetts.

We also shared some special moments with two of our very handsome grandsons. Michael’s son, Michael J., is a student at Purdue. And Greg’s son, John, is in law school at Indiana University. John also interned with his uncle in Washington, D.C.

Michael’s daughter, Audrey, told us that there is a big difference in the congressional and gubernatorial races, finding the recent negative attacks hard to watch. She is a senior in high school and will finish this December.

One of the surprise guests was Michael’s niece Jennifer (Tom’s daughter) who is a student at Georgetown University. She made a last-minute decision to join the family for election night. She got a cab at the school to go to the airport but realized she didn’t have any cash. Fortunately she had found an understanding cab driver who agreed to take her IOU and her promise to pay him when she got back. When she arrived in Indianapolis she remembered that it would be a dress-up affair but she only had slacks. She went into one of the airport shops and bought a skirt with a credit card. She was good-natured about the whole thing and told us that she really wanted to be with us on that night.

The magic moment when Michael was declared the winner was greeted by a lot of emotion and thanksgiving. One of the highlights was when Forrest Lucas, whose company’s name is on the stadium, walked into the suite with his wife, Charlotte. They brought a bottle of champagne and offered a toast for the victory.

There was a hometown touch to the moment, since Forrest grew up in Columbus and attended the old Kent School and Central Middle School. Two of his sisters — Brenda Harris and Carol Cummins — still live in Columbus.

Michael, of course, was deeply humbled and greatly moved, giving thanks for all the love and support of family and friends. He had special praise for his incredible campaign staff that made it all work so smoothly.

Before Michael and Karen went down to the field, his brother Gregory offered a prayer of thanksgiving for this moment of success for Michael and described his brother as a very deserving and wonderful person.

Although the night and the celebration eventually came to an end, Michael and I were able to continue a post-election tradition of many years standing.

The two of us met at 8 o’clock the next morning at Shapiro’s Restaurant for a breakfast. Mr. Shapiro refused to accept payment for the meal.

Unfortunately, there were limits on Michael’s time. He had to leave at 9:30 for a meeting with Gov. Mitch Daniels.

He left behind a very proud mother.

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