Former Vice President Mike Pence has officially declared his candidacy for president, filing paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Monday. Pence, a staunch conservative who often ties his policy positions to his Christian faith, is seen as the traditional conservative standard-bearer in the Republican 2024 field. However, he faces an uphill battle as he is currently polling at only 5% in a hypothetical GOP primary matchup, while former President Donald Trump leads with 54% and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is in second place at 21%, according to FiveThirtyEight's polling average. Pence has gained the backing of a new super PAC run by one-time Trump allies, “Committed to America,” and has spent the past several months traveling the country promoting his political message.
Pence has largely avoided criticizing Trump, but he has accused his former boss of endangering him and his family during the January 6 storming of the Capitol. Pence ultimately refused to reject the 2020 Electoral College results, which Trump and his allies pressured him to do. Pence has challenged subpoenas for his testimony in probes into Trump’s conduct in the lead-up to January 6, but he ultimately sat for questioning in April before a grand jury in the Justice Department’s investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith.
Pence joins at least six other confirmed major GOP candidates vying for the party’s 2024 nomination, including DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, and Senator Tim Scott (S.C.). Christie is also expected to announce his candidacy on Tuesday, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum will make an announcement about his political future on Wednesday after teasing a run for the White House.
The Justice Department concluded its investigation last week into Pence’s handling of classified documents without bringing charges. The DOJ opened a probe after classified documents were found at Pence’s home in Indiana in January and February, and additional non-classified materials were found at offices for Pence’s Advancing America Freedom organization.
As the Republican field continues to grow, it remains to be seen whether Pence can gain traction and overcome his low polling numbers to become a viable contender for the party's nomination.