Wednesday November 3, 2010

Pro-Life Hero Mike Pence Steps Down from House Republican Conference

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 3, 2010 ( – U.S. Rep. Mike Pence has announced that he will not seek re-election as head of the House Republican Conference in Congress.

Pence, a strong pro-life social conservative, announced in a letter to Congressional Republicans that he was stepping down from the No. 3 GOP post, now that Republicans have secured strong majorities in the House chamber.

Pence said he was considering “new opportunities to serve Indiana and our nation in the years ahead.”

“I have come to realize that it may not be possible to complete an entire term as conference chairman. As such, I think it would be more appropriate for me to step aside now,” he said.

The pro-life congressman may be considering a presidential run. He recently visited Iowa, a key early state in the GOP’s presidential primary season, and also won September’s “Values Voters Summit” Straw Poll.

Pence built up a strong reputation as a small government fiscal conservative, who strongly supported traditional marriage and the right to life movement.

“We must never compromise on our commitment to end this era of runaway federal spending, borrowing, bailouts, deficits and debt,” Pence wrote to his GOP colleagues. “We must never shrink from our stand for a strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, individual liberty, and traditional moral values.”

He also admonished the GOP not to take their gains for granted, but to hold fast to the principles they ran on. He urged them to “be bold and courageous” or else expect the American people to show them the door as they did in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

“Do not allow political winds to sway you from doing the hard thing and standing up for the basic principles upon which our nation was founded. We have been given an awesome responsibility and a second chance,” said Pence. “If you prove true to our word and act with courage, the American people will stand with us.” (Full letter here)

When the 112th Congress takes their seats in January, the conference chair will become the GOP’s No. 4 position, with the GOP Minority Leader presumably being elected as the next Speaker of the House.

Already pro-life advocate and Tea Party heroine U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has announced her bid to replace Pence as the GOP conference chairman.

Bachmann will definitely face pro-life U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, who has also announced his intention to run for the post. Hensarling is a close ally of Eric Cantor, and pundits speculate a Bachmann-Hensarling match-up would present another Tea-Party-Establishment battle, but this time in the GOP House caucus itself.

Another possible mentioned to succeed Pence is pro-life U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.).

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins praised Pence for his leadership in the GOP, saying “we owe him a debt of gratitude for his focused leadership that has not wavered in upholding faith, family and freedom.”

Perkins added that Pence had set a bar for what conservative voters wanted in GOP leaders “across the board on fiscal, social and foreign policy issues.”

“This may very well be the first major test for the new Republican majority in selecting leadership that reflects the message that voters sent to Washington last night,” said Perkins.

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