IN Focus: Gov. Pence’s new running mate says Lt. Gov. wasn’t pushed out

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INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 14, 2016) - Gov. Mike Pence named Eric Holcomb as his pick for lieutenant governor during a news conference Tuesday.

Holcomb withdrew from the race for U.S. Senate on Monday.

He’ll replace Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, who’s leaving the administration to apply for the job of president at Ivy Tech Community College.

Holcomb, a former Indiana Republican Party chairman, had been one of three Republican candidates hoping to replace Sen. Dan Coats. He served as a top aide to Coats and former Gov. Mitch Daniels.

“Eric has the character and experience to serve our state as lieutenant governor,” Pence said. “To everyone who knows him, Eric Holcomb is just a great guy.”

Pence called him a man of “faith, humility and optimism.”

The governor admitted he had “mixed feelings” about Ellspermann’s impending departure and believes Holcomb can step into the role immediately.

“I’ve chosen Eric Holcomb for one reason… Eric Holcomb is ready, day one, to assume the duties of lieutenant governor,” he said.

Ellspermann spoke briefly during Tuesday’s news conference. She and the governor insisted she wasn't pushed out and that the Ivy Tech opportunity was one she simply couldn’t pass up.

“Thank you for the opportunity and the honor to serve with you,” Ellspermann said. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done.”

Ellspermann said she would resign at the appropriate moment and in an orderly way. Holcomb called it “humbling” to follow in her footsteps as lieutenant governor.

“I could not be more excited or more proud to serve this man at this time,” Holcomb said of Pence.

Holcomb told reporters he’s been out on the road for 10 months to hear Hoosiers’ concerns. Education, infrastructure and job creation are all top of mind, he said. Pence’s nomination of Holcomb must be approved by majority votes in the Indiana House and Senate.

“I’m eager to get to work,” said Holcomb.

In the video above, Holcomb discusses the controversy over religious freedom, which all parties insist was not a factor in Ellspermann's departure.