In this district that stretches from Muncie south to the Ohio River, the Pence name has been a constant in political circles since Vice President Mike Pence first ran for Congress in 1988. Pence lost his first two congressional campaigns in what was then the 2nd District. After a stint as a political radio host, he would eventually go on to be elected as the region’s congressman from 2001 to 2013 until he became Indiana governor.
Pence’s elevation as Donald Trump’s vice president in 2016, combined with then-Sixth District Congressman Luke Messer’s decision to run for U.S. Senate, cleared the way for Pence’s older brother to easily win the congressional seat in 2018 from the family’s home base of Columbus.
Greg Pence depended largely on the family name, big-time Republican donors and warm and fuzzy commercials during the campaign, limiting public appearances and media interviews. This was a source of frustration for Pence’s primary challengers and Democrat opponent Jeannine Lee Lake, who faced Pence in both the 2018 and 2020 general elections, losing both by roughly 2-to-1 margins in a district rated the most staunchly Republican in the state.
Before entering politics, Pence was the president of Kiel Brothers Oil Company, an oil-supply business and chain of convenience stores. The business filed for bankruptcy as the price of oil collapsed and the state imposed an $8.4 million environmental fine for leaky storage tanks. More recently, Pence and his wife Denise have owned two antique malls in southern Indiana.
In Congress, Pence has largely been socially conservative like his brother and a Trump loyalist, staunchly opposing impeachment proceedings against the president and using a barnyard epithet — “to the fourth degree,” he added — to characterize the charges against him. Pence also voted against a measure to remove Confederacy-related statues from the U.S. Capitol. A Marine once stationed in Beirut, Pence last year won approval for legislation that gives Gold Star families of the deadly Beirut barracks attack access to $1.68 billion in frozen Iranian funds. – Greg Weaver