It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Gov. Mike Pence was supposed to be on the ballot for governor so he could lose to John Gregg. That is that attitude of “Pence Must Go” creator Kevin Warren.
“This is not how I wanted this to go down,” says Warren. “This is very disappointing.”
The reality of Donald Trump picking Pence as his running mate sent a blow to Warren’s political action committee’s plans. The campaign in its original form targeted Pence personally because of his support of the legislature’s effort to prevent marriage equality in Indiana with a constitutional amendment — something Pence also championed on the national level during his time in Congress.
The campaign exploded after the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) debacle. Pence’s signing of the bill behind closed doors surrounded by evangelical Christian leaders and lobbyists only solidified the belief that the legislation was meant to be a way to “protect” those who object to homosexuality on religious grounds. All of the proceeds from the sign sales would be donated to LGBTQ organizations after the general election.RELATED: Pence Must Go
The campaign grew over time as Warren learned of the other ways Pence and the General Assembly had disenfranchised and offended other groups in addition to the LGBTQ community, including educators, laborers, women’s health advocates and others. Signs evolved from the simple “Pence Must Go” message to include others like “Expel Pence, Teachers United” and “Women’s Health Matters,” with proceeds from those signs to be donated to organizations supporting those efforts. All messages were unified through the message font and the colors used in the original Pence Must Go sign. The merchandise grew to include sticky and magnetic bumper stickers, hats, t-shirts, plastic cups and mugs. Warren had also planned to decorate the state with billboards, funding through a separate fundraising campaign.
So what happens now that Pence is no longer interested in state government and has hitched his wagon to the Trump campaign?
“We are going to continue to focus on Mike Pence and Donald Trump,” said Warren in a Facebook post to his supporters. “But we will also be focusing on the Indiana Governor’s race.”
Warren says he and his team will wait to see who is selected by the Republican leadership to replace Pence on the ballot and plan accordingly. They will also look at who in the state legislature up for reelection warrants attention for supporting and voting for the very issues that brought attention to the governor.
“If you were scared before, we now have three reasons to be,” Warren posted on Facebook. “Donald Trump, Mike Pence and the Indiana Republican Legislature.”
Two new slogans have been added to the Pence Must Go arsenal — “Trump-Pence Wrong for America” and “Trump-Pence Make America Hate Again!”— and both are now available as signs. The “Make America Hate Again!” message is also available as a magnet bumper sticker.
Warren and crew have brought signs to and attended protests like the fundraiser on Monument Circle in front of the Columbia Club where Trump and Pence attended a fundraiser and at the Indy Regional Airport to “welcome Pence home” from New York. Regardless of what happens from now until Election Day, Warren will continue to fight against the ideals Pence championed as governor.
“We are in the process of reorganizing and re-strategizing,” says Warren. “Stay tuned.”