. . . Following the October Indiana Republican Fall Dinner, rumors surfaced that Ellspermann might be off the Pence ticket in 2016. Matt Lloyd, deputy chief of staff for communications for Gov. Pence, immediately tamped that story down, telling Howey Politics on Oct. 28. “Gov. Pence believes Sue Ellspermann is the best lieutenant governor in the country and is grateful for her service every day. He looks forward to serving with her throughout his second term.”
Since governors were constitutionally allowed to seek second terms in 1976 with Gov. Doc Bowen, all of the tickets seeking reelection remained intact. The Pence administration source told HPI that if Ellpsermann is not selected as Ivy Tech president, she would remain on the ticket. “Nothing has changed since the quote you ran,” the source said.
A spokesman for Ellspermann said that her office would be issuing a statement later today.
On Friday, informed and reliable sources told Howey Politics Indiana that Gov. Pence was meeting with Ivy Tech trustees, urging them to appoint Ellspermann to be the next president. The Pence administration did not respond to HPI requests for information on Friday, Saturday and again Monday morning.Ellspermann's office has confirmed interest in her potential appointment to the job according to Howey. Pence detractor Bill Ooesterle blames RFRA for the interest in her being moved over to the Ivy Tech job. Ellspermann's office says RFRA has nothing to do with it.
LG Ellspermann spokesman Dennis Rosebrough says she has "great" relationship with Pence, and interest in Ivy Tech is not connected to RFRA.— Brian Howey (@hwypol) December 21, 2015
UPDATE: The Star is now up with its story on the development confirming that Ellspermann is poised to become Ivy Tech's next president. Naturally, the Gannett newspaper does not confirm its reporters learned of this development from a competing news source, Howey Politics. The Star's story is no different than the Howey Politics report. The governor is happy about Ellspermann's prospects of becoming Ivy Tech's president, even if it means losing his running mate, and The Star's favorite Pence dissident, Bill Oesterle, is convinced the move is over her disagreement with Pence on social issues like RFRA and an LGBT rights bill:Lt. Gov. Ellpsermann acknowledges interest from Ivy Tech, but is "focused" on being LG. Bill Oesterle says this is result of RFRA, SB100.— Brian Howey (@hwypol) December 21, 2015
“Governor Pence believes Lt. Governor Ellspermann is uniquely qualified to lead Ivy Tech and strongly encouraged her to seek the position,” said Matt Lloyd, Pence’s spokesman. “Governor Pence believes Ivy Tech will play a key role in strengthening Indiana’s workforce and believes the lieutenant governor is an ideal candidate for the position. The governor will support the lieutenant governor's effort to lead Ivy Tech but respects the role the Board of Trustees will play in the decision-making process.”
Ellspermann did not return calls from The Star late Monday.But in a prepared statement, she said she was honored to be considered for the Ivy Tech job.
"While I have made the governor aware of this opportunity, this is a decision of the Ivy Tech Board of Trustees," Ellspermann said. "As lieutenant governor I am focused on making Indiana a state that works and improving the lives of Hoosiers.”
According to a senior Pence administration official, Ellspermann was approached during the summer by a member of the Ivy Tech board, who encouraged her to apply for the position. Ellspermann then spoke with Pence and expressed interest in applying, according to the official
News of Ellspermann’s potential departure comes just weeks before Pence is expected to make public his stance on a potential expansion of the state’s civil rights laws for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers.
In September, Ellspermann said she believed that as long as there was a perception that Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act might be used to discriminate, it was important to fix it . . .
Former Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle, who was one of Pence’s top donors until a falling out over RFRA, said “it’s obvious something precipitated a separation.”
“Clearly there were divisions over the handling of RFRA and non-discrimination, and have been for months,” Oesterle said.
Lloyd denied that a disagreement over LGBT rights played a role in Ellspermann’s interest in leaving the ticket.
“I’m not aware of any disagreement they’ve had over that issue,” he said . . .
Lloyd said Pence is confident he can find someone qualified to fill the position if Ellspermann leaves, but he declined to speculate about possible candidates. Any replacement would have to be confirmed by the Indiana General Assembly . . .A reader has also pointed out that Ed Feigenbaum's Indiana Legislative Insight speculated about a rumored job change for Ellspermann into a job in academia. Rumors at that point focused on whether she would take a job opening at Vincennes University back in July. That rumor discussed the possibility that Teresa Lubbers, Commissioner of Higher Ed. would be appointed by Pence as lieutenant governor in a move to head off a primary challenge to Pence led by Bill Oesterle. Lubbers, of course, is very liberal former state senator who only identified with the Republican Party and landed lucrative jobs because she was married to a long-time moderate Republican operative, Mark Lubbers, who made a bunch of money during Daniels' tenure as governor pushing that corrupt, one-sided Rockport coal gasification deal brokered by Gov. Daniels, even while he freelanced as a communications consultant for Daniels' office.