Donald trump will announce his running mate at some point this weekend, after scrapping plans for an announcement event in Manhattan today. He’ll likely choose one of three Republican politicians, all of whom have appeared with him in recent weeks as he’s narrowed down the field. The winner is still unclear, so we’ll break down all three to see just where they stand in relation to tech.
The fiery and forceful governor of New Jersey was one of the first mainstream politicians to jump on the Trump train, but now seems to be the least likely of the final three to snag the running mate spot. He garnered some recent tech news when he appointed Dave Weinstein to be New Jersey’s first-ever Chief Technology Officer, a cabinet-level position. Christie charged Weinstein with updating the state bureaucracy’s tech, particularly the Motor Vehicle Commission.
New Jersey is not much of a tech powerhouse, although a handful of interesting startups have gotten their start in the Garden State during his term: the wholesale shopping app Boxed started in Edison, and Jersey City E-Commerce company Quidsi was bought by Amazon in 2010.
Christie also drew the ire of Tesla’s Elon Musk back in 2014. Musk alleges that Christie cut deals with state car dealers to keep Tesla sales centers out of New Jersey. Jersey residents still must go to Pennsylvania or New York to purchase Tesla automobiles in person.
As VP rumors swirl, the former Speaker of the House is enjoying yet another period of relevance in a nearly forty year political career. His biggest point of ire among tech enthusiasts is probably the Office of Technology Assessment. Starting in 1972, the OTA provided members of Congress with objective information on everything from space transportation to locust plagues. If you’ve never heard of the OTA, you can blame Gingrich: He led the legislative push to shutter the program in 1995. Now, Congress is left with fewer options in determining how new technology affects policy, an information gap that the New York Times and the Atlantic have lamented in recent years.
More recently, however, Gingrich has jumped back into the tech scene in earnest – becoming an official tech reviewer for digital media site Mashable. Gingrich’s review of the Apple Watch has 19,000 views on Youtube, and he has also worn Google Glass to the zoo, explained why cell phones are misleading, and trumpeted the merits of virtual reality after using an Oculus Rift, an experience that he discussed on his blog.
The current governor of Indiana, Mike Pence is both the favorite in the Trump running mate competition and perhaps the most relevant of the three contenders when it comes to tech policy. During his term, Pence has decided to turn Indiana into an American tech center – he uses the phrase, “Silicon Prairie” – and has had noticeable success.
His administration has made huge cuts in the state’s corporate tax rates and marketed Indiana as a new tech mecca. In the past month alone, three more California-based companies have left the Golden State and moved to Indianapolis: Brite Systems, Site Strategies, and Determine, Inc.. Pence heralded all three of the moves on his Facebook page. The push for innovation has meant good things for Indiana’s economy, bringing about three years of steady job growth in a state hard hit by the Great Recession, a recovery that the Trump campaign will point to repeatedly should Pence be the nominee.
Pence has announced new initiatives to drive entrepreneurship as recently as this morning, discussing plans to invest state pension money in fast-growing local companies and making sure venture capital tax credits are transferable.
Still, some argue that Indiana’s economic recovery is not quite as robust as Pence and his supporters let on, and that the state may be trading away quality of life for a lower cost of business.