Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, responding to the flight of Democratic lawmakers from the state House, denying Republicans a quorum to pass union-busting bills, asked Republicans in his party to stop work on the bill, allowing the Democrats to return and operations in the legislature to continue.

Daniels told reporters this afternoon that he expects House Democrats will return to work if the bill dies. It would be unfortunate if other bills are caught up in the turmoil, he said.

He will not send out state police to corral the Democrats, the Republican governor said.

The Democrat (sic) minority has right to express its views, he added.

The governor clung to his view that this is not the year to tackle right to work.

Daniels has basically held this position for a while, that he didn’t want to bring up the “right-to-work” bill this year. He would rather see Republicans in the legislature work on his education reform and criminal justice reform proposals.

That doesn’t mean Daniels is some big union supporter, however. He has said he supports the policy, but he just doesn’t want it to go forward at this time. In 2005, Daniels de-certified all public employee unions in Indiana, so he’s well ahead of Scott Walker in terms of union-busting. He has, in fact, called public employee unions the most powerful special interests in America today. So let’s not be fooled by this kinder, gentler approach from a potential Presidential candidate.

But it’s significant to see Daniels pull back so quickly from the fight. Rick Snyder in Michigan and Rick Scott in Florida are two other Republican Governors who backed away from any Walker-style plan to take away public employee collective bargaining rights. The polling shows antipathy toward these kinds of plans. And even Republicans follow the polls sometimes.

UPDATE: And Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett, too:

In Pennsylvania, which faces a $4 billion deficit, a spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett, the state’s new Republican governor, said the governor wanted to shrink the government while being mindful of a 40-year-old law giving state employees the right to organize.

“We’ll begin negotiations with the public-sector unions and anticipate we’ll conduct those in good faith,” said Kevin Harley, a spokesman for Governor Corbett.