Governor-elect Mike Pence appointed Thursday former State Rep. Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale) as senior advisor for legislative affairs in his administration. Espich did not seek re-election this year after his district was drawn together with another Republican-held district during last year’s redistricting process.
In a statement, Pence highlighted Espich’s experience as with tax and finance legislation as a key asset.
“Jeff Espich has a record of accomplishment and integrity from his years of leadership in the Indiana General Assembly,” Pence said. “His knowledge of the budget and the legislative process will make him an invaluable addition to our legislative team.”
Espich has served as chairman of both the House Ways and Means Committee and the State Budget Committee. He also served as speaker pro tempore and chairman of both the House Commerce and Labor committees during his 40 years in the state legislature.
Political analyst Ed Feigenbaum says the decision will benefit both Republicans and Democrats in the upcoming legislative session.
“I think it shows that the governor-elect is approaching the budget without a lot of, how do we say this delicately, without really a philosophical bent,” Feigenbaum says. “He’s more interested in the fiscal impacts at this point, and Jeff Espich is someone who can guide him through some of the peaks and valleys in the legislature.”
Feigenbaum says there is no one who knows the budget process like Espich, which is beneficial for a politician who has as little experience working with the state legislature as Pence. Still, Feigenbaum adds Espich’s role will likely extend beyond the budget.
“As the new governor and his people have what Jeff Espich has to offer, they will come to rely on him more and more if he’s willing to take the time and wants to play that kind of a role,” Feigenbaum says.
In a statement, Espich said he is honored to serve in his new role and hopes he can help Pence implement his agenda.