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Rep. Mike Pence enters Indiana governor’s race

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Indiana Republican Rep. Mike Pence is running for governor in 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Indiana Republican Rep. Mike Pence announced Thursday that he will run for governor in 2012, entering the race as a strong favorite to succeed potential presidential candidate Mitch Daniels.

Pence was widely expected to run for governor ever since he turned down a presidential bid of his own earlier this year. He filed the necessary paperwork Thursday morning, launched a new website and, during a conference call with supporters, confirmed his intentions.

According to a source on the call, Pence made the announcement from Washington, calling it “the worst-kept secret in Indiana politics.” He said a more formal announcement will follow June 11 in his hometown of Columbus.

“Those of you that know me know that I fight for what I believe in,” Pence said. “Well, I believe in Indiana.”

Democrats aren’t ready to concede the race, yet. Former state House speaker John Gregg is preparing a run of his own. And Pence may not have a clear path in the primary, with former Attorney General Steve Carter considering the race, as well.

That said, this race is Pence’s to lose, and Republicans rejoiced at his entry.

“Congressman Pence’s decision to run for governor guarantees that Republicans will field a top-tier candidate for Indiana governor in 2012 and is a major blow to Democrats’ hopes of regaining the governor’s mansion,” Republican Governors Association Chairman Rick Perry said in a statement.

Democrats criticized Pence for making the announcement from Washington and immediately began tying him to the politics in the nation’s capital.

“A vitriolic critic with a megaphone does not a quality executive make, and he’d bring everything that’s wrong with Washington back to Indiana,” state Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said.

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