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Republicans hope Vice President Mike Pence will be a game changer in 2018 elections

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — both Democrats and Republicans are trying to figure out just how big of a factor Vice President Mike Pence will be in winning Hoosier votes in the 2018 midterms.

The vice president was in Indianapolis Friday to tout the GOP tax plan and he finished the night with a private fundraiser for a U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun and other Republican candidates.

Pence appears to be embracing his popularity in Indiana, but can he transform that into support for his friends?

“I have heard Mike Pence’s name mentioned by Republican candidates across the country,” said Rick Klein, ABC News political director. “They like the ability he has to raise money and I think he has a unique ability in Indiana to move votes.”

Republicans in Indy are banking on that ability to sell their Braun to general election voters.

“He’s a new candidate, Hoosiers are just getting to know him so to have someone like the vice president who’s won statewide here as governor and statewide here again as vice president,” said Kyle Hupfer, Indiana Republican Party state chairman. “This is a great way for Mike Braun to get to meet and be introduced to a lot of voters.”

But folks on the left say his constant exposure is taking attention away from President Donald Trump which they believe isn’t sitting too well with president.

On the heels of a nasty U.S. Senate Republican primary, Democrats say there’s more GOP tension brewing in the White House,  partly because the Great America Committee leadership PAC Pence started a year ago.

In that time it has raised more than $2.2 million and donated to more than 60 Republicans across the House and Senate.

“I think the fact that the vice president has this political operation, it’s not going to run against the Trump political operation but it does exist as a separate entity, with its own fundraising, with its own backers, its own donors, its own operatives and that is an unusual arrangement,” said Klein.

Indiana Democratic Party spokesperson Michael Feldman pointed to reports of a rift between the POTUS and VP over this and other actions being a perceived power grab.

“It seems increasingly likely that his frequent trips back home are an attempt to escape a harsh spotlight,” said Feldman. “The negative attention, however, might start to worry rep. Braun and other senate hopefuls who are relying on him to bolster their own campaigns.”

Hupfer says he doesn’t buy it.

“I think the democrats wish there was tension between the president and vice president but it’s clear that the contrary is true,” he said.

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