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GOP keeps supermajority status in Indiana House, Senate

November 4, 2014

Republicans maintained their supermajority position in both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly on Tuesday, assuring they can move their priorities essentially at will.

The results of a few races remained up in the air late Tuesday but President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, predicted the GOP would pick up seats in the Senate.

“This now gives us the responsibility to lead,” said Indiana Republican Chairman Tim Berry. “And that’s what we’re going to do over the next two years.”

Returns tallied by the Associated Press showed that Democratic Sen. Richard Young of Milltown had lost his seat to Republican Erin Houchin.

Republicans also picked up the Southern Indiana seat that had been represented for years by Sen. Lindel Hume, a Democrat who is retiring. Republican Mark Messmer was leading the race for that seat.

And Republican Jon Ford unseated Democratic Sen. Tim Skinner of Terre Haute.

Long announced to a cheering crowd at state Republican headquarters that those three seats would soon be back in GOP hands. He said later that two of the wins were part of a larger trend in rural areas of southern Indiana that once had been largely Democratic but have been trending toward the GOP.

“We took the risk and stuck our necks out,” Long said. “We’ve done the right thing and done right by Indiana. It’s possible the Senate could be 40-10 (in favor of Republicans) by the end of the night tonight.”

Going into the election, Republicans held 37 of the Senate’s 50 seats.

In the House, Republicans held 69 of the 100 seats before the election, the largest majority in modern legislative history. That’s two more than Republicans need to have a quorum in the chamber even if Democrats don’t show up.

On Tuesday night, it appeared Republicans would easily hold onto that supermajority.

Republicans picked up District 45 in southwestern Indiana when former Rep. Bruce Borders of Jasonville took back the seat he lost two years ago to Democratic Rep. Kreg Battles of Vincennes. They had both been incumbents at the time and forced to face off when new maps put them in the same district. Battles decided to retire this year, leaving the door open for Borders to return this year.

But in District 35, Democrat Melanie Wright unseated incumbent Rep. Jack Lutz with a narrow 51-49 percent victory.

Bosma told the crowd at the Republican headquarters that the GOP victories mean “great representation coming to Hoosiers.” He said it means giving lower-income families the opportunity to send their children to the schools of their choice and “making our public schools well funded.”

Democrats had tried to use education issues – including GOP support for vouchers and school funding issues – against Republicans but the issues never gained traction.

Gov. Mike Pence said the GOP majorities are “enormously important” to his agenda and the larger Republican goals for the coming year.

“Indiana has been setting the pace in pro-growth policies and fiscal responsibility and education innovation,” Pence said. “A strong affirmation from the people of Indiana tonight is going to make it possible for us to continue to build on that momentum.”

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