SOUTH BEND – Note to Democrats: Be careful what you wish for. It just might come true, with unpleasant consequences. Like President Mike Pence.

Many Democrats wish that President Trump would go. Quickly. Before the 2020 election. Through impeachment.

Well, it appears likely now that the Democratic-controlled House will vote to impeach Trump. But that only sends impeachment charges to the Republican-controlled Senate, where chances that the president would be convicted and removed from office range from highly unlikely to none at all.

Still, some Democrats hold out hope - wishing fervently - that Trump could be implicated so deeply in impeachable conduct and become so clearly unhinged that Senate Republicans would join in a two-thirds vote to remove him from the White House.

If the unexpected happened, if that Democratic wish came true, Vice President Mike Pence would become president.

There could be unpleasant consequences for Democrats in President Pence rather than an impeachment-weakened President Trump as the 2020 Republican nominee. Or maybe not. We’ll look at that possibility, too.

First, however, consider a Politico Magazine scenario suggesting that Pence, as “a low-key Midwesterner,” might be able to “restore calm and soothe an exhausted electorate” and form a strong diversity ticket with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as running mate.

Pence now doesn’t have high approval ratings. He is seen as sort of a potted plant, there to decorate the Oval Office but never to disagree with anything. But if he moved to the presidency in a crisis, handling it calmly rather than with bombast, wouldn’t Pence be tougher for Democrats to defeat than a wounded, impeached and unhinged President Trump?

Pence would inherit much of the Trump base because of his loyalty to the president. And he could extend appeal to those traditional Republicans now turned off by Trump’s conduct and departure from conservative values on spending and deficits.

There’s a Washington guessing game about how many Republican senators would vote in an impeachment trial to convict Trump if there were a secret ballot. Probably a lot. Many would prefer Pence. But there will be no secret vote. So, most Republican senators would face political demise in voting against Trump if his popularity with Republican constituents remains high.

While many Republicans in Congress wish secretly that Pence rather than Trump would be their 2020 presidential nominee, perhaps they also should be careful what they wish for.

Pence now has been pulled into the impeachment investigation of whether Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in an effort to force the Ukrainian president to seek dirt on Joe Biden and his son. Pence conferred face-to-face with Ukrainian President Zelensky about the military aid, and one of Pence’s top advisors was in on the famous July 25 call involving Trump and Zelensky.

Trump himself pulled Pence into the situation by suggesting that details of Pence’s phone calls and conversations with Zelensky should be released. They were “perfect,” Trump said. He has an unusual definition of that word.

Pence denies any knowledge of the effort to encourage the foreign nation to seek negative information about Biden.

If that sounds to Trump like a disagreement with his contention that there is a lot of negative stuff that needs to be found in Ukraine, Pence could be in trouble with his boss.

Could Pence even be dropped from the 2020 ticket? Sure. Trump doesn’t hesitate to throw anybody under the bus if he grows dissatisfied with the vehemence of unquestioning support.

Trump likes a down-in-the-gutter fighter, like a Rudy Giuliani. That’s not Pence’s style. Trump might wish for someone more eye-gouging than Pence.

In this strange political environment, it’s hard to figure what ticket either party should be wishing for. So many unforeseen and possibly unpleasant consequences lurk in any scenario. 

Colwell has covered Indiana politics over five decades for the South Bend Tribune.