Greg Pence, one of Mike Pence’s older brothers, has filed a tax document indicating he will seek the eastern Indiana congressional seat that the vice president and former governor represented for 12 years.
He formed the Greg Pence for Congress Committee on Monday, according to a filing with the Internal Revenue Service that was obtained by The Associated Press.
Greg Pence, who once ran the family’s now-bankrupt chain of Tobacco Road convenience stores, previously said he had been courted to run for the district, which covers a broad swath of central and southeastern Indiana — including Muncie and Columbus.
As the vice president’s brother, he is likely the hands-down favorite to win in the overwhelmingly Republican district. He has a famous name, owns an antiques business in the area and even bears a striking resemblance to his brother, with a close-cropped head of white hair.
It’s likely he will also be able to tap into the same fundraising network his brother enjoyed in Indiana — if not nationally.
The IRS document for Greg Pence’s political organization lists Craig Kunkle as its “custodian.” Kunkle is a chief operating officer of a firm called MO strategies, which is led by the vice president’s longtime aide and fundraiser Marty Obst, according to records kept by the Indiana Secretary of State’s office.
A spokesman for Greg Pence declined to comment Wednesday.
Bob Grand, a major Republican fundraiser and powerbroker in Indiana politics, previously told the AP that Greg Pence would be an ideal candidate.
“He’s a community leader, he’s been involved in this community, he’s obviously got good name ID. I think all those things are positive,” Grand said in June when Greg Pence’s name was first floated as a possibility.
Greg Pence lives in Columbus, Indiana. That’s the same town the family grew up in after the Pence’s father, Edward, relocated from Chicago and later built a gas station empire.
He eventually took over the company, Kiel Brothers Oil Co., from his father. But the business, which operated a chain of convenience stores under the name Tobacco Road, went bankrupt under Greg Pence’s watch in 2004.
That wiped out more than $673,000 of Mike Pence’s net worth, according to Pence’s 2006 tax filings, which he has publicly released.
Jonathan Lamb, another candidate in the congressional district’s GOP primary, said Greg Pence’s entry into the race runs counter to President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to drain the swamp.
“They are trying to anoint someone because of his last name,” Lamb said. “That’s the epitome of the good old boys’ club.”
Lamb, who is a businessman, also questioned the wisdom of sending someone whose company went bankrupt to Congress.
“I think we’re all proud to have a Hoosier that’s steps away from the president, but that doesn’t necessarily make Mike Pence’s brother qualified to be a congressman,” Lamb said.
Democrats, meanwhile, were more than happy to tie Greg Pence to his brother, who championed divisive social issues while governor, including a 2015 law that critics said allowed gay people to be discriminated against. The law was later changed, but only after a national backlash and threats of a boycott.
“If you thought one Pence was damaging enough to our state’s economy, wait until you see what a second can do,” Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said. “Voters must hope that he doesn’t represent a second helping of that harm.”