Pence Stays Put

The rules of the Senate often favor the minority party.

It’s a different story in the House, where serving in the minority is the Congressional equivalent of Siberia.

But being in the House minority now could mean you’re in the majority next year.

Some election handicappers are starting to suggest that Republicans could be on the verge of wresting back control of the House from Democrats in the midterm elections. Certainly that’s a tall order. But if there was ever a better sign that House Republicans are energized, look no further than Tuesday’s decision by House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN).

Pence was tinkering with challenging Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) in this year’s Senate contest. And Pence even got good results from a robo-call poll that showed him beating the incumbent. But that wasn’t enough to push Pence over to the Senate and decide to instead remain in the House.

As GOP Conference Chairman, Pence is the third-highest ranking GOPer in the body. And if Republicans were to run the table and capture the House, it’s likely Pence could move higher in the House leadership.

Pence ran against current Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) in 2006 for the mantle of GOP leader when Republicans lost control of the House.

For his part, Boehner applauded Pence for deciding to stay “and finishing what we’ve started.”

In a letter to supporters, Pence noted that as conference chairman he had “been given the responsibility to shape the Republican comeback as a member of the House Republican Leadership and, second, because I believe Republicans will win back the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010.”

But a higher post in leadership or even the Senate might be too low a post for Pence.

There have been rattlings for months that the Indiana Republican could seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. And a resurgence of House Republicans could put Pence in an enviable position among conservatives were he to run for president in 2012.