Greg Pence, the incumbent Republican running for Indiana’s 6th Congressional District, speaks during an interview at the Daily Journal on Oct. 3 in Franklin.

Emily Ketterer | Daily Journal

Editor’s note: Republican incumbent Rep. Greg Pence is one of two candidates for Indiana’s Sixth Congressional District. A Where They Stand interview with his opponent, Democrat Cinde Wirth, can be found here.

Two candidates are on the ballot vying to be the U.S. Representative for Indiana’s Sixth Congressional District.

Incumbent Rep. Greg Pence, a Republican who is running for his third term in office, will face Democrat Cynthia “Cinde” Wirth in November’s general election. Indiana’s 6th Congressional District was recently redrawn following the 2020 Census, and will include the entirety of Johnson County this election. Previously, Johnson County was part of the 9th District, which is currently represented by Trey Hollingsworth.

Pence, of Columbus, has held the 6th District seat since he was first elected in 2018. Wirth, an educator and small business owner also from Columbus, previously ran to represent District 59 in the Indiana House of Representatives in the 2020 primary. She later ran for Indiana State Senate in District 44 in the general election that fall.

The Daily Journal met with Pence to discuss the issues facing both the 6th District and the nation, inflation and their priorities if elected. The Q&A below includes by Pence in his own words. It has been edited for length and grammar.

» What drew you to run for this office?

I was helping my predecessor, Luke Messer. You know, the 6th District has changed quite a bit. He was a 6th District (representative) from Greensburg. He was in for six years, and then he wanted to run for Senate. I was his statewide finance chair. As I was going around, people said to me, ‘Why don’t you run?’ So then some people talked me into it. I was semi-retired, and I’ve been in politics behind the scenes for a long time, so it wasn’t a big stretch.

» What are the most pressing issues facing the country? How do they relate to the issues facing this district?

Inflation, inflation and inflation. …. Everyone is talking about the cost of everything. If you talk to people that work for a living on an hourly basis, their problem is inflation has outstripped increases in pay. This isn’t anything new, but that’s all we’re hearing about. Some people say … “It’s not inflation that bothers people. It’s the economy going in the wrong direction.” To me, inflation is at the heart of, and the core of … what the problem is in the direction of the economy.

You see, with inflation, I’ve talked to a lot of small business people here, just right here in this (courthouse) square. The cost, their costs are eating into their profitability. A lot of restaurants are now struggling because of the cost of labor, the cost of paper, the cost of the food and their sales are starting to dip. I’m concerned that we are; I believe we are in a recession, OK, and in stagflation. It’s not going to get better until we kind of bend some of the curbs that can be bent, and one is in energy.

» What are your top priorities and how will you execute those?

Definitely (will) continue with the constituent services. I know that sounds simplistic, but again, my title is ‘I’m representative of the Indiana Sixth District.’ We need to make sure that we represent folks.

Legislatively is fighting inflation, and that would be vis-à-vis deregulation. We have to let the market come back in and solve some of these problems. We’ve really shut down, particularly in the energy world. I live in the county and I pay for my trash pickup. It’s usually $60-some dollars. Now because of fuel surcharges, a week ago Sunday, I paid $100.14 with $40 fuel surcharge.

Inflation is also affecting the delivery of all goods across the country. My electric bill is up over 50% because my natural gas costs have gone up, because we’ve stopped the development or expansion of natural gas in this country and … in some cases, shut down coal plants before we had an alternative so I’ll focus on that very much. Deregulation will be key. … Even deregulation in the medical industry. There’s some things that are getting in the way of them being able to deliver care to patients as well.

» There is a push right now moving towards greener and cleaner energy sources, what are your thoughts on it? Do you think the country is moving in the right direction?

I think they’re moving in a fine direction. It’s the speed at which they’re moving which is a real problem. In August, we had to fire up to two coal plants in Southern Indiana because we had shut those down because we’re trying to move to green before we have an alternate source of electricity or energy. We’ve spent 150 years creating an energy distribution matrix across the country … to get energy in the right place at the right time, affordably and reliably. When we’re pushing out one of the options before the other alternatives are really to scale, that’s causing problems. California, announced, two, three weeks ago that you couldn’t charge your electric cars for a week because there wasn’t enough electricity there. They had moved too quick to solar and wind. … I’m fine with solar and nuclear and wind, natural gas, liquid natural gas, hydrogen — I’ve sponsored a hydrogen bill that would kind of take diesel out of the mix and put hydrogen, which would create electricity on trucks and heavy-duty and on-road and off-road (vehicles) — but we’re not there in terms of the distribution side yet.

» What are your thoughts on President Biden’s student loan debt relief plans?

I couldn’t be more opposed to that decision to arbitrarily forgive loans that no one forced people to take out. I don’t really even understand the thinking. … The parents that have sacrificed; if you’re a parent, and you borrowed money to put your child through college that will not be forgiven, that loan doesn’t qualify for forgiveness. It’s only a loan that the student took out. … We need to address the real issue. When I went to college, I paid for college myself. It’s a private school in Chicago, and I did it with summer jobs and part-time work during school. That school now (costs) $63,000 a year. There’s no way you could do what I did. The incredible rise of room, board, tuition at colleges … we need to be talking about that. Bring (colleges) to the table, ask them why. Some of these colleges have enormous endowments, have huge building programs, and yet the tuition keeps going up.

» Right now, people are becoming more and more concerned about the data tech companies are collecting. How do you feel about it and what should be done to address these privacy concerns?

I am on Energy and Commerce, we have authority on consumer protection. … I’m on that committee and there isn’t a Democrat or Republican in the House or the Senate who doesn’t want to do something about privacy and Big Tech. I thought we almost had something done last spring, but there’s some nuances we have to work through. … Everything we do today, Big Tech is gathering information and they’re selling your information, and my personal solution is I need to give you very explicit permission for you to sell my information, and you should pay me for it. How’s that for a novel idea, huh? … I do believe the bot issue kind of ranks and moves mundane stuff around manipulatively you know, but it’s us personally too. These electric cars are just going to suck information from you and in send it off. Did you know, when you buy a new car, you actually give up your rights to all the information in that car? You go ‘Oh no, it doesn’t say that.’ Yeah, it’s been saying that for a couple years. They own your data, and that leads to … right to repair. … There’s a right to repair bill that I actually sponsored, but this is all under that same Big Tech blanket: the right to privacy, your data, who owns it.

» What are your thoughts on the U.S. aiding Ukraine? Are we too involved or not involved enough?

I have voted in support of humanitarian aid. I did not on (Sept. 29). I think this is part of our inflation problem. … This last Congress, I was on the Foreign Affairs committee. I don’t know why we’re paying four times as much for Ukraine to defend itself versus the European Union, or NATO. … I think they need to solve problems over there. There’s going to be a pause there because of winter … but I will not be supportive of any additional military aid to Ukraine.

» How will you communicate with constituents?

We respond to any inquiries we get. We always do that. I do a lot of radio in … we’ll call it the old 6th District. … We got some billboards up to let you know. We send out mailers. We sent out a number of mailers in August (on) how you contact our office; postcards. We have offices in Richmond, Greenfield and Columbus. I come home every week, I get out and about like this and fly the flag.

» What else would you like to say to voters?

Vote. Sometimes I don’t understand folks who are eligible to vote that don’t vote. Get out and vote. If you disagree with us, then vote. If you agree with us, vote. If you want to make changes, vote. It’s really sad how little — it’s about 30% in the state of Indiana — eligible voters that show up and it’s not hard to vote.


Name: Greg Pence

Party: Republican

Age: 65

Residence: Columbus

Family: Wife, Denise; four children

Occupation: Businessman; U.S. Congressman

Educational background: Columbus North High School; Loyola University, Chicago

Political experience: U.S. Representative for Indiana’s 6th District, 2018-present

Military service: U.S. Marine Corps, 1979-1984

Memberships: IUPUC Board of Trustees; St. Bartholomew Catholic Church; former chariman of Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce