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Posted at 12:21 PM ET, 12/20/2010

Pence for governor? Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman bows out

By Aaron Blake

Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman said Monday that she will not run for governor in 2012, leaving a opening that many expect will now be filled by Rep. Mike Pence.

The Republican congressman has been eyeing a presidential campaign, but sources in Indiana are now expecting him to run for governor. Skillman's exit this morning makes that campaign look even more likely.

In a statement, Skillman (R) cited her health as the reason for her decision to not seek the seat currently held by term-limited Gov. Mitch Daniels (R). She expressed "much disappointment" that she cannot run.

"My end-of-year physical exam revealed minor health issues," Skillman told WISH-TV. "Nothing will interfere with my devotion to my duties as lieutenant governor, and I plan to continue the same pace as always. However, it is best to continue without the additional stress of a gubernatorial campaign."

Skillman became the latest big name to say no to the job. Already, outgoing Sen. Evan Bayh (D) and outgoing Rep. Baron Hill (D) have said they will not run.

With Skillman out of the equation and the big name on the Democratic side (Bayh) also out, attention will now turn to Pence, who is looking to step up in some fashion after leaving House GOP leadership this year.

Though many in Washington see a national campaign in Pence's future, Republicans in Indiana think a governor run just got more likely.

"Lots of moves and more than idle chit-chat lead me to say with confidence he's running for governor," said one Republican insider.

A pretty clear path the the governor's mansion could prove enticing for the state's rising GOP star. Pence turned 51 years old in June, meaning he has plenty of time to build toward a national campaign.

A Pence ally did not return an email seeking comment.

His potential opponents on the Democratic side include Rep. Joe Donnelly and outgoing Rep. Brad Ellsworth, who lost a Senate campaign this year.

On the GOP side, if Pence doesn't run, expect focus to shift to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, Rep.-elect Todd Rokita, state House Speaker Brian Bosma and state Senate President David Long.

By Aaron Blake  | December 20, 2010; 12:21 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2012, Governors  
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