- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann is serving her final hours in office before her resignation takes effect Wednesday in an unusual replacement of Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s running mate for his re-election campaign this year.

Ellspermann’s resignation will be official at 5 p.m. Wednesday, about three weeks after announcing she would step down as she applies to become Ivy Tech Community College’s new president. Her final day will include being honored in the state Senate, where she is the presiding officer.

The Indiana House and Senate are expected to vote Thursday on confirming Pence’s selection of former state Republican Party chairman Eric Holcomb as the new lieutenant governor. Holcomb is set to be sworn into office that day, according to the governor’s office.

Ellspermann’s resignation letter, submitted Monday, said she was stepping down with “a conflicted heart.” Ellspermann, who has a doctorate in industrial engineering, was a first-term state representative from the southern Indiana town of Ferdinand when Pence picked her as his running mate for the 2012 campaign.

Her resignation has been anticipated since December, when Pence suggested she would be an “ideal” candidate to lead Ivy Tech.

Both Pence and Ellspermann deny there is a rift between them, but differences between the two were highlighted in September, when Ellspermann said she supported LGBT civil rights protections.

The party has been divided over the issue since the backlash against the religious objections law that the Republican-led Legislature passed last year before watering it down under heavy criticism from big business. Pence has said he favors religious freedoms over protections for anyone who has been declined service, fired from a job or denied housing over sexual orientation or gender identity.

Holcomb said last month that he backs the governor’s stance.

Pence faces a difficult re-election fight in this year’s rematch with former Democratic House Speaker John Gregg, whom he narrowly defeated in 2012.

The only time since the 1940s that a new lieutenant governor was selected in the middle of a term was in 2003 when Democratic Gov. Joe Kernan nominated Kathy Davis for the position a few weeks after the death of Gov. Frank O’Bannon.

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