More than a dozen names were floated in Republican circles over the last two weeks, each with various strengths to counter perceived weaknesses in the party. Experienced female candidates had the potential to close the major gender gap that hurt Republicans in 2012, while big-name fundraisers like Bob Grand and former state Rep. Dan Dumezich offered the firepower and connections to keep the party flush with cash heading into the 2014 elections.
But it’s sometimes hard to know which candidates are being seriously considered and which are trial balloons. In the hours after Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb announced his departure last month, Mike Gentry, a longtime House Republican campaign director and close ally of House Speaker Brian Bosma, quickly launched an online campaign.
There were others, including Indiana Family Institute President Curt Smith, whose names were floated through Republican publications to gauge insider reactions. But the governor worried that picking Smith might pigeonhole him as a religious conservative, said a top Republican who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because talks with Pence and his team were private.
Other potential top candidates including Anne Hathaway, a veteran national Republican operative, and Fred Klipsch, a prominent businessman and driving force in the education overhaul movement, pulled their names from consideration because of the demands placed on anyone tasked with running the party full time, the Republican source said.
By the time Pence and his inner circle had struck some names from consideration and the candidates themselves had pulled back, Berry was the clear choice.
Tom LoBianco covers the Indiana Statehouse for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter @tomlobianco.