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Indiana Reacts To Trump's Running Mate Pick Gov. Mike Pence

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Donald Trump will appear with his running mate this morning, Indiana Governor Mike Pence. The announcement came after a wild week of guessing who Trump's final pick would be. As Indiana Public Broadcasting's Brandon Smith reports, the decision has also created chaos in Indiana.

BRANDON SMITH, BYLINE: When rumors first surfaced about Donald Trump's interest in Mike Pence as a running mate, it sent shock waves through Indiana's political scene.

JOHN KETZENBERGER: I have not seen anything quite like this or anything even close to this.

SMITH: That's Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute President John Ketzenberger, who's been following Indiana politics for 25 years. Pence campaigned and governed as a conservative and had a divisive reputation in the state. As governor, he signed bills that restricted access to abortion and appeared to give private businesses the right to deny services to LGBT customers. So as he prepared for re-election, Pence was looking at a tough campaign.

KETZENBERGER: I don't think it's any secret that this race was going to be very close and very much a referendum on Mike Pence because he just wasn't popular.

SMITH: Still, Barbara Hackman says plenty of folks in Indiana are disappointed Pence won't get a chance at four more years in the governor's mansion. But she believes Trump picked the right person.

BARBARA HACKMAN: Mike is such a conservative. And with his - and I think it kind of balances out, you know, Trump's flamboyancy and Mike's just good, down home conservative values.

SMITH: Hackman is the GOP chair in Pence's hometown. He even filmed the first TV commercial for his 2012 gubernatorial run on her farm. She's excited to see Pence, a former member of Congress, elevated to the national stage again.

HACKMAN: I know we need to have an election, but I look forward to having Mike up in Washington, D.C., as our VP.

SMITH: Pence's approval ratings at home had been negative for a while. Here's recent Indiana University graduate Sam Velazquez.

SAM VELAZQUEZ: Pence makes a lot of people really angry. I don't know that this will necessarily hurt or help Trump.

SMITH: Regardless of Pence's legacy, University of Indianapolis political scientist Laura Albright says all Hoosiers should be pleased to see Pence as Trump's pick.

LAURA ALBRIGHT: The fact that we're able to create and cultivate such great political leadership, it's wonderful. And even for Republicans or Democrats, I think it's a win-win.

SMITH: Pence's decision to run as Trump's vice president means he's not seeking re-election. Now, several prominent Republicans, including the lieutenant governor and two members of Congress, have jumped into that race, opening up even more vacancies down the ballot and unsettling Indiana politics for the forseeable future. For NPR News, I'm Brandon Smith in Indianapolis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.