Rep. Greg Pence says he won’t seek reelection

File photo U.S. Rep. Greg Pence speaks to business leaders during an Aspire Legislation Matters luncheon at Valle Vista Golf Club and Conference Center in Greenwood.

Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection this year to a fourth term in Congress, joining more than three dozen House members eyeing the exits as the 2024 election approaches.

Pence, 67, a Columbus native and older brother of former Vice President Mike Pence, announced his decision in a statement but did not explain why he decided against seeking another term representing Indiana’s 6th District, which includes parts of Bartholomew, Johnson, Shelby and Hancock counties and southern portions of Indianapolis.

Pence also did not comment on what he plans to do after leaving Congress. Pence has been mentioned as a potential running mate for Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch’s bid for Indiana governor. He also underwent a heart procedure in 2022 after experiencing “minor chest discomfort.”

“In 2017, I ran for Congress because I was ready to serve again. As a former Marine officer, I approached the job with purpose. After three terms, I’ve made the decision to not file for reelection. For the remainder of my term this year, our team will continue to focus on delivering outstanding constituent services. To the voters in Indiana’s 6th District — it is a privilege and honor to represent you in our nation’s capital,” Pence said in the statement.

He first won the seat in 2018 with nearly 64% of the vote after then-incumbent Luke Messer vacated the seat to run for the U.S. Senate. He was then reelected in 2020 and 2022. Mike Pence previously held the same seat for 12 years before running for Indiana governor.

In Congress, he was a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, voting in line with the former president’s position 98.9% of the time, according to data-driven news site FiveThirtyEight.

In his campaign announcement video released in 2017, he said, “I’m going to fight to help (President) Donald Trump help our district. That’s why I’m running for the United States Congress.”

During the 2018 campaign, he said the Trump administration had “turned the country in the right direction” and “we’ve got to keep it going and keep the socialists out of Congress.”

Local reaction

Local and state Republican officials praised the congressman, highlighting what they described as his “conservative values.”

Former Bartholomew County Republican Party Chair Barb Hackman said “we’ll really miss” Greg Pence.

“I have really appreciated what he has done as congressman. He had some big shoes to fill, having his brother serve as congressman as well. But he has done an outstanding job and is really so personable. It was really all about the people and helping them with issues that were brought before him,” Hackman said.

State Rep. Ryan Lauer, R-Columbus, described Pence as a “great friend” and praised his service to the country as a congressman and Marine.

“Working with him over the year on state and local issues, I’ve always admired (that) his only concern was helping the people in our district and our state and fighting for Hoosier common-sense values. It has been an honor to work with him.”

Notable moments

One of the most notable moments during Pence’s time in office came on Jan. 6, 2021, when a violent mob loyal to Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a failed attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election — including some rioters chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” The mob forced Mike and Greg Pence to flee together, a moment that was caught on film.

Just hours after the Capitol attack, Greg Pence voted to object to presidential Electoral College results in Pennsylvania, where nearly 7 million Americans cast ballots.

In December 2020, the three-term congressman also signed on to an amicus brief in support of an ill-fated lawsuit filed by Texas challenging the federal election results in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin.

In a statement at the time, he said his votes on the 2020 election results “reflect both my support of the Constitution and the disenfranchised voters of the 6th District.”

Other notable votes during his time in office include voting against impeaching Trump on two occasions — first for withholding military aid to Ukraine to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democrat Joe Biden and then later on a charge of Trump inciting the Capitol attack.

“The president has made it clear he will support a peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 20th,” he said in a statement shortly after the Capitol attack.

He also voted against the American Rescue Plan, which designated at least $50.36 million in federal funding for local governments, schools, restaurants, regional projects and educational programming in Bartholomew County, according to local officials and federal and state records.

In 2021, a Pence spokesperson characterized the American Rescue Plan as a “big lump of (expletive)” in a statement to The Republic.

Exiting Congress

Greg Pence joins a growing list of House members who have announced plans to retire from Congress or seek a different office.

As of Tuesday, 37 House members — including Indiana Republicans Victoria Spartz, Larry Buschon and Jim Banks — have said they will not seek reelection this year, according to the U.S. House of Representatives Press Gallery.

Banks is seeking the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Mike Braun, who is leaving Congress to run for Indiana governor.

Aaron Dusso, an associate professor of political scientist at IUPUI, said there are several common reasons why a candidate may choose to not seek reelection, including running for a higher office, retirement due to old age or accepting outside moneymaking opportunities such as lobbying.

“On average, you’re talking about 10% to 15% of the House chooses not to run again for whatever reason in a given year. So, right now, we’re still in that range,” Dusso said. “…The average tenure for a member of the House is about four or five terms, so eight to 10 years. …But both (Greg) Pence and Spartz were below that average.”

“(Congress) is so combative these days, more than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago. It can’t be very fun to be there no matter which side you’re on,” Dusso added.

Currently, it is unclear what the congressman plans to do next or if he plans to remain politically active. In August, a Crouch spokesperson told The Republic that Crouch had “asked Rep. Pence to consider being her running mate” as lieutenant governor. Lieutenant governors in Indiana are selected by delegates at party conventions.

Pence has not hidden his support for Crouch’s campaign. He formally endorsed Crouch’s campaign for governor in May, saying in a statement that she “is a proven conservative who will protect Hoosier values, stand up for families, faith, life and will always support law enforcement.”

In June, Pence made a $35,000 contribution to her campaign the following month — which at the time was the largest single contribution he had given to any one candidate during his tenure in Congress, according to the Federal Election Commission.