Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Pence's Choice of Auditor Shows a Party Aligned against Mourdock ; CAPITOL BUREAU

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Pence's Choice of Auditor Shows a Party Aligned against Mourdock ; CAPITOL BUREAU

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - Richard Mourdock's transformation - from a tea party hero one year ago to a pariah in Republican circles today - is now in full view. Gov. Mike Pence made it so last week, when he selected a new Indiana Republican Party chairman whose elevation would initiate a chain of events likely to block Mourdock from finding a spot on the 2014 statewide ballot.

The governor's move in favor of state Auditor Tim Berry was a clear break from the past as he seized the chance to shift control of a state party apparatus that had been led by those drawn to the camp of former Gov. Mitch Daniels.

It also means Pence will appoint the next state auditor - and the individual he selects will almost certainly be renominated by Republicans in 2014, blocking Mourdock's chance to run for the office.

That's just as important, as Pence knows well, since Mourdock's U.S. Senate race implosion just two weeks from election day last year almost cost Republicans the governor's office.

The trouble for Mourdock started at a debate with Democrat Joe Donnelly in New Albany, Ind. Responding to a question about abortion

Mourdock said that pregnancies resulting from rape are God's will.

In part because it followed the bizarre comments of Missouri Republican Todd Akin, Mourdock's remarks quickly set off a national firestorm. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney distanced himself and President Barack Obama took a swipe at him on Jay Leno's show.

The damage to the Republican ticket was clear. Pence, who was expected to win easily, found himself in what ended up being a 3- point race with Democrat John Gregg.

Ultimately, Republicans - perhaps regretting Mourdock's May 2012 primary victory over U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, who was sure to keep the seat in the GOP's hands - have since kept their distance from Mourdock.

It hadn't been so obvious, though, until Berry was chosen last week, dramatically lessening Mourdock's chances of being the Republican candidate for state auditor in 2014. …

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