Indiana Lt. Gov. eyeing job leading Ivy Tech

(WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH/AP) — Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann said she’s been approached about becoming president of an Indiana community college, and Gov. Mike Pence’s spokesman says Pence has encouraged her to seek the job.

Ellspermann said she has been approached about the job, but she stressed that university trustees will make the final decision.

“From time to time as I travel the state I have been approached about opportunities including most recently Ivy Tech Community College.  I am extremely honored to be considered given my deep engagement in workforce development.  While I have made the Governor aware of this opportunity, this is a decision of the Ivy Tech Board of Trustees.  As Lt. Governor I am focused on making Indiana a State that Works and improving the lives of Hoosiers,” said Ellspermann in a statement Tuesday morning.

Governor Pence’s spokesperson said Pence supports Ellspermann.

“Governor Pence believes Lt. Governor Ellspermann is uniquely qualified to lead Ivy Tech and strongly encouraged her to seek the position,” said Pence spokesperson Matthew Lloyd. “Governor Pence believes Ivy Tech will play a key role in strengthening Indiana’s workforce and believes the Lt. Governor is an ideal candidate for the position.  The governor will support the Lt. Governor’s effort to lead Ivy Tech but respects the role the Board of Trustees will play in the  decision-making process.”

Ellspermann’s departure would give Pence the chance to choose a new running mate as he seeks re-election. Lloyd told 24-Hour News 8 that Pence is confident he could find a replacement for Ellspermann.

“The governor believes Republicans have a very deep bench in Indiana and identifying a qualified replacement will not be a problem,” said Lloyd.

This potential shake-up comes just as Pence is set to announce where he stands on adding LGBT civil rights protections to state law. After the RFRA fallout, he’s avoided taking a public position on the issue for months, but just last week, Pence told reporters he will reveal his stance in early next year. That is sure to be a key issue during the election.

Some people are skeptical about the reason Governor Pence is supporting Ellspermann’s potential move to Ivy Tech.

“The announcement that Governor Mike Pence is encouraging Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann to leave his administration to go to Ivy Tech was unexpected. By showing Lt. Governor Ellspermann the door now, Mike Pence is doubling down on an out of touch ideology which threw Indiana into a $250 million economic panic and caused the state to have its ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ reputation placed in jeopardy. And as Hoosiers prepare for what will be RFRA 2.0, the lone moderate voice in the Pence Administration is being shooed away. Ellspermann’s departure is not coincidence, it’s Mike Pence once again choosing to play political games to save his career rather than solving today’s problems for everyday Hoosiers,” said Drew Anderson, Indiana Democratic Party communications director.

“I’m not aware of any disagreement between the Governor and Lt. Governor regarding RFRA and the Lt. Governor’s spokesman is on the record yesterday refuting that rumor,” said Lloyd.

A search committee is seeking a replacement for retiring Ivy Tech President Thomas Snyder. A decision is expected in summer 2016.

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