Republicans will maintain their supermajority status in the Indiana General Assembly after votes were finally tallied Friday in Porter County where state Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, defeated his Democratic challenger.
The final count showed Soliday edging out Democrat Frank Szczepanski by just under 2,000 votes and giving House Republicans 67 seats, leaving Democrats with 33.
A supermajority means that Republicans can pass bills and conduct other business without Democrats being involved.
“By voting to maintain our supermajorities in the General Assembly, Hoosiers have made it clear that Indiana is on the right track, and that we must continue this momentum,” said Republican Party Chair Kyle Hupfer in a statement after the Porter County votes were announced, three days after Tuesday's election.
Porter County's results had been delayed as officials conducted a hand count of thousands of absentee ballots cast by mail or during early voting that weren't delivered to polling places Tuesday.
In the Senate, Republicans maintain a comfortable majority, controlling 40 out of 50 seats. They lost one seat when Democrat J.D. Ford defeated Carmel Republican Mike Delph, who had been a vocal opponent of hate crime legislation that would have provided LGBT protections. Ford is the first openly gay person to be elected to the General Assembly.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans formally elected state Sen. Rodric Bray of Martinsville as the president pro tempore in their first caucus meeting following Tuesday’s election. He had been elected to that position last summer after former President Pro Temper David Long, R-Fort Wayne, resigned, but it wasn’t finalized until after Tuesday’s election.
After assuming the leadership role, Bray named Sen. Mark Messmer of Jasper as majority floor leader. Senate Republicans also elected Sen. Jim Merritt of Indianapolis as the majority caucus chair.
The Senate’s 10 Democrats will have an opportunity to weigh in on Bray’s selection as president pro tempore when the legislature meets Nov. 20 for Organization Day.
Also, Bray named the chairs of the standing committees for the 2019-2020 sessions, which includes replacing the longtime chair of the Education and Career Development Committee, Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, with Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Centerville.
Kruse, in a statement, said he was voluntarily stepping down from the committee post to spend more time with his wife and family.
“This role has been rewarding, but it has also been demanding on my family and me,” Kruse said. “While I’ve chosen to step down as chair to spend more time with my wife and family, I believe Sen. Raatz will serve this committee well, as he strongly cares about Indiana students and the quality of their education.”