Pence says he will support incumbent GOP governors against Trump-backed challengers

In the latest sign of what may be a widening gulf between former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, the latter has reportedly declared his intention to support the campaigns of incumbent GOP governors facing challengers endorsed by the former, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ report indicated that Pence informed a group of those politicians of his plans during a private meeting held recently, saying, “I want to be clear. I’m going to be supporting incumbent Republican governors.”

Though Trump enjoys substantial popularity with wide swaths of his party’s base, there are a number of prominent Republican figures who are consciously maintaining some distance from him and have been doing so since the party lost the White House last November.

Even so, Trump has boldly thrown his support behind primary challengers to half of the GOP’s sitting Republican governors who are set to run again in 2022, with current Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan among the former president’s most vocal critics, as Newsweek noted.

According to reports, during the conversation between Pence and the group of incumbent governors, Hogan declared Trump’s conduct with regard to bolstering the campaigns of primary challengers “outrageous, unacceptable and bad for the party.”

Pence’s increasing visibility in party politics has sparked considerable speculation about his future political plans, and his itinerary in recent weeks has done little to tamp that down, with the former VP planning an early December trip to New Hampshire, the state that has long held the first contest in the presidential primary season, as Fox News pointed out.

In addition, Pence recently made a second visit within a year to Iowa, another key state in the nomination process every four years, and he also made stops recently in South Carolina and Nevada, critical locales for most every successful presidential candidate.

Despite the fact that Pence has not said one way or another whether he has Oval Office aspirations he will seek to fulfill in the next election cycle, his increasingly packed political calendar and his recent statement to the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting that, as Fox News also noted, that “we’re going to win back this country in 2024” seem to point to that possibility.

Trump himself has long teased the possibility of a 2024 run – though he has yet to make his plans officially known – and with Pence clearly jostling for greater influence over the future of the party as evidenced by his involvement in gubernatorial races, things could get very interesting – and indeed very heated — in the months to come.