INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
The Republican who replaced Mike Pence on the ballot for governor of Indiana
broke with his political benefactor on Monday, stating that Syrian refugees
should be allowed into the state despite Pence’s insistence that they pose a
Remarks by Lt. Gov.
Eric Holcomb, who was Pence’s preferred successor, came the same day a
federal appellate court in Chicago rebuked Pence for his unsuccessful
efforts to stop the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and other groups from
settling Syrian refugees.
“I would honor what
the court said. I wouldn’t go against the court ruling,” Holcomb said during
a press conference following a gubernatorial debate. “I would continue to
allow the refugees to come in here and find safe haven.”
He spoke one day
before Pence, who is Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate, debates
Democrat Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential hopeful Tim Kaine. Trump and
Pence have made restrictions on immigration and refugees a major plank of
In Indiana, damage
to the state’s reputation under Pence has emerged as a potent campaign issue
that Democratic candidate for governor, John Gregg, hopes to capitalize on.
Pence’s tenure was punctuated by his steadfast support for conservative
social issues that at times drew unwanted attention to the state, most
notably when a religious objections law he signed provoked a national
backlash from critics who said it could sanction discrimination against gay
Holcomb for saying he would welcome the refugees, but said conservative
social issues pushed by Republicans have given the state a black-eye.
happens when you get in dealing with these social issues,” said Gregg, a
former statehouse speaker who narrowly lost to Pence in 2012. “Again Indiana
has been embarrassed, again we’ve spent unnecessary tax dollars for
litigation. And it is wrong.”
On Monday, the
court said Pence’s warnings about the threat of terrorism by refugees
amounted to “nightmare speculation.”
The candidates for
Indiana governor faced off in a town hall forum, with Holcomb arguing for a
continuation of the economic development policies of recent Republican
administrations, while Gregg called for passing civil rights protections
based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Holcomb sought to
align himself with the state’s popular former governor Mitch Daniels while
criticizing the fiscal management of state government in the late 1990s,
when Gregg was House speaker and Republicans held power in the Senate. The
state cut taxes while expanding spending, blowing through the state’s budget
Holcomb, whom Pence
appointed as lieutenant governor in March, has said the state’s balanced
budgets and strong reserves help attract business investment to Indiana. He
touted those policies for helping drop the state’s unemployment rate to 4.5
percent in August, below the national mark of 4.9 percent.
But he has
consistently tried to duck talk of social issues and says there’s no
appetite to take up LGBT rights in the Legislature.