The day after a Tea Party-backed candidate ousted a six-term Republican senator partly over his concerns whether he truly resided in Indiana, the state's newly minted Democratic gubernatorial nominee has raised the issue in his race.
Democrat John Gregg used a conference call with reporters on Wednesday afternoon to claim that his Republican opponent, Rep. Mike Pence, has "gone Washington" because of his 12 years of service in Congress and his home in the Virginia suburbs of Washington. Gregg's move follows the defeat in Tuesday's GOP primary of Sen. Richard Lugar by Richard Mourdock. Lugar, who had successfully fought a court battle to prove his residency in the Hoosier State, has primarily lived at a Virginia home and had sold his Indianapolis house in the 1970s, staying in hotels during his visits to the state.
"We saw Hoosiers clearly reject two Virginians running for office in Indiana," Gregg said. "That's why my opponent has been accused of trying to confuse the issue."
Pence, who has served in Congress since 2001, owns a home in Columbus, Ind., and in Virginia. His website states he splits his time between the two states. In an interview with the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Pence declined to specify how he splits his time between Indiana and Virginia, but noted that he wanted to be close to family members, who reside in the Virginia residence. In that same interview, Pence said he has been touring Indiana for his gubernatorial campaign and visited 85 of its 92 counties.
"We're doing our job in Washington," Pence told the Journal-Gazette. "What time remains belongs to my family and campaign."
Gregg, a former House speaker in the Indiana legislature, is locked in a competitive battle with Pence and former reality-show contestant Rupert Boneheim, a Libertarian, in the contest to succeed Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who faces a term limit.
Washington, D.C., area residency is not uncommon for Indiana congressional members. Democrat Evan Bayh lived with his family in a Washington home during his Senate term; Dan Quayle resided in Virginia while serving as a congressman and senator from Indiana. When asked about Bayh's example, Gregg said that he is not running against Bayh and could not comment on the former senator. Gregg instead focused on former Democratic Reps. Baron Hill and Brad Carson, who he said arranged for their families to reside in Indiana and commuted back for visits.
"Most of them go out on Tuesday and back on Thursday," Gregg said of members of Congress.
Residency issues in Indiana also claimed the career of Indiana's former Republican Secretary of State Charlie White earlier this year. White was forced out of office after being found guilty of voter fraud charges, in part based on his lying about his residency during his 2010 campaign.