Mike Pence
Michael Conroy  /  AP
Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., meets with constituents in Pendleton, Ind., on Jan. 28.
By
updated 5/5/2011 10:25:17 AM ET 2011-05-05T14:25:17

U.S. Rep. Mike Pence is running for Indiana governor in 2012.

The conservative Republican told supporters on a conference call Thursday that he will seek the office currently held by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels. Most already expected Pence to run.

Pence is considered the favorite in the race because he carries strong name recognition, a network of supporters and campaign cash that could help him clear the field of other Republicans considering a run.

Democrats still lack a candidate, but former House Speaker John Gregg says he is considering entering the race.

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Daniels cannot seek a third consecutive term and is set to announce in coming weeks whether he'll run for president.

Story: Ind. Gov. Mitch Daniels to decide soon on White House

Widely expected run
Pence, 51, has widely been expected to run for governor since ruling out a White House bid and resigning the No. 3 slot in the House Republican leadership after winning a sixth term in November.

"He is the leading candidate right now," Kubik said. "He's just so well known. He's popular in the state. And he's one of the best communicators I've ever heard."

The native of Columbus, Ind., told reporters Monday that he and his family have deliberated and prayed over the issue and came to a final decision Sunday. He originally planned to make his announcement that day, but rescheduled the call after the death of Osama bin Laden.

"My heart's desire is to continue to serve Indiana in some capacity, whether that's in the Congress or as a candidate for governor," Pence said Monday.

In an email sent Wednesday to supporters and obtained by The Associated Press, Pence rescheduled the announcement call for 10 a.m. Thursday.

'A Christian, a conservative and a Republican'
Pence often describes himself as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order." Pence would enter the race with strong name recognition, a network of supporters and campaign cash that could help him clear the field of other Republicans considering a run at the office, such as GOP businessman Jim Wallace of Fishers.

Boyer described herself as a diehard Pence supporter and said she expects the party to coalesce behind him.

"I will put my life on hold to campaign for him," she said. "I believe in him probably more than any politician I've ever met."

Among Democrats, many consider Gregg a leading potential candidate. Gregg has said he plans to form an exploratory committee but has not yet made a formal announcement.

U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly has also been mentioned, but he's considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Sen. Richard Lugar. Former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh and Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel have both said they will not run.

Current Republican Gov. Daniels cannot seek a third consecutive term and is expected to make a decision within weeks on whether he'll run for president. Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman is not running for governor.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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