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GOP's Pence wins election as Indiana governor

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Republican Mike Pence won election Tuesday as Indiana governor, extending his party's control of the state's top office at the same time voters ousted the incumbent GOP state schools superintendent.

Pence defeated Democrat John Gregg by a margin that was significantly less than what Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney captured to carry the state.

"Tomorrow a season of service begins," Pence told supporters in declaring victory. "I will work every day to earn your trust as we build a more prosperous future for all the people of our state."

Democrat Glenda Ritz defeated Republican state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett in what many viewed as a referendum on the education overhauls that Bennett had pushed. Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller won a second term as the state's top lawyer, and Republicans were adding to their advantage in the General Assembly.

Pence's victory followed a campaign in which he started as the better-known candidate and had a strong fundraising advantage in the race to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels.

With about 95 percent of the statewide vote tallied, Pence had about 50 percent of the vote to about 46 percent for Gregg. That compared with about 54 percent for GOP presidential candidate Romney, who carried the state.

Pence has been in Congress for the past 12 years, gaining national prominence as a social conservative. He focused his campaign on economic issues and brushed off attacks suggesting that he will push contentious social issues, even as he proposed using traditional marriage as a tool to reduce poverty and improve the economy.

Pence said he hoped Daniels would see his victory as a vote of confidence in the governor's agenda over the past eight years.

"This is not our moment, this is Indiana's moment," Pence said. "Because of the progress we've made in the past eight years, Indiana is on the verge of an era of growth and opportunity."

Gregg called his campaign a roller coaster ride.

"I've been humbled by it, I've been educated by it, I've been touched by it," Gregg said. "It was the experience of a lifetime."

Gregg, a former Indiana House speaker, positioned himself as a candidate who would bring a bipartisan approach to the governor's office.

That appealed to Jordan Fischer, 25, of Indianapolis, who said he was worried about most of his friends leaving the state after college.

"I found Pence to be very divisive," Fischer said. "I found his stance on most social issues to be disagreeable."

But Daniels' popularity boosted Pence among some voters.

"A lot of it for me is feeling comfortable with Pence continuing to carry on the initiatives put in place by Gov. Daniels," said Joe Reece, a 34-year-old software salesman who was in line when the polls opened at his precinct on the north side of Indianapolis.

Republicans entered Tuesday's election holding strong majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.

Republicans retained a majority in the 100-member Indiana House, but it was uncertain whether they would win the two-thirds supermajority they sought so they could conduct business even if no Democrats are present. That push follows walkouts by House Democrats the past two years to stall action on the GOP-backed right-to-work law and other labor and education proposals.

Republicans maintained the supermajority they have in the state Senate.

Republicans had a 60-40 House advantage the past two years.

Republicans won at least six House seats from Democrats — defeating Democratic Reps. Win Moses of Fort Wayne, Peggy Welch of Bloomington and Phil Pflum of Richmond and capturing three open seats given up by retiring Democrats.

In a matchup of two incumbents in southwestern Indiana, Democratic Rep. Kreg Battles of Vincennes held an 89-vote advantage over Republican Rep. Bruce Borders of Jasonville out of nearly 25,000 votes cast.

Democrat Christina Hale held 44-vote lead over Republican Rep. Cindy Noe of Indianapolis, and a Democrat won an open seat in Indianapolis previously held by the GOP.

Many teachers backed Democratic candidate Ritz against Bennett, who pushed for approval of the state's private school voucher program and has overseen the first state takeover of troubled public schools.

Zoeller, who faced Democrat Kay Fleming, has defended in court a GOP-backed state law seeking to cut off much of Planned Parenthood's government funding because it provides abortions. He joined other Republican state attorneys general in challenging the federal health care overhaul.

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  • Radical Choice
    When healthcare for this nation is equated to 9/11, some kind of reality check is missing in a candidate. When a Congressman panders to Indiana on his website about an secondary jet engine that would cost us a billion that Gates didn't even want, you know reality is secondary to how Pence thinks. No telling what will happen when Pence gets in.
  • Pence Mysticism
    One of the reasons I opposed him so strongly. I want level headed, data-based, fact-based logical decisions. Not his bigoted, self righteous, mystically infuenced mumbo jumbo.
  • Seperation of Church & State
    Who was the first person Mike Pence thanked in his Governor acceptance speech lat night? His wife? His family? His supporters? Voters? No He passionately thanked GOD. If you thought Richard Murdock was a tea party nut regarding his "God's intent" remark, you haven't seen anything yet from Mike Pence. Eric Miller's Advance America just took over the state. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7DjkCzpzdE

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    1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

    2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

    3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

    4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

    5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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