INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
After most Indiana lawmakers survived their primary contests, Republicans
turn their focus to November as they try to maintain majorities in the
General Assembly that are so large even a Democratic walkout can’t stop them
from passing legislation.
control the House 69-31, hope to retain the supermajority they gained in
2012 that allows them to conduct business without any Democrats present.
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, hope to build on a 37-13 supermajority. In
the House, the Democrats would have to win at least three seats to break the
supermajority and in the Senate they would have to win at least four seats.
effectively filibustered debate on a divisive right-to-work measure by
walking out in 2011 and 2012, denying Republicans the numbers of lawmakers
needed to conduct business. But achieving a supermajority took away that
threat from Democrats.
But in the GOP
battle to keep the supermajorities, Democrats may have a slight edge heading
into November, said Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for
Indiana Politics at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne. Because
so few Democratic candidates faced primary challenges Tuesday, they are able
to focus their time and money squarely on November’s general election, he
“I’d be willing to
bet the Democrats are feeling somewhat optimistic because they actually have
people who even today can be thinking about what they’re doing for
November,” he said.
congressional incumbents won their primaries Tuesday, as did most Statehouse
veterans. But social conservatives’ displeasure over votes that kept a
constitutional ban on gay marriage off the November ballot helped tea party
candidates oust Reps. Rebecca Kubacki of Syracuse and Kathy Heuer of
Columbia City. State Sen. John Waterman also lost.
Compared to two
years earlier, when U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar was ousted in the Republican
primary, Tuesday’s election was subdued, with low turnout reflecting the
lack of statewide races on the ballot. Even the contentious battle over
whether to amend the state’s gay marriage ban into the constitution was
silenced for this year, leaving voters more worried about the economy and
“We don’t have any
real new jobs. We haven’t in how long? That doesn’t mean we’re not creating
jobs. But jobs that actually pay enough for people to live off of,” said
Bruce Jones, 51, a stock broker who was voting in South Bend.
turn their focus to bread-and-butter issues rather than social ones. Despite
a grueling gay marriage battle at the Statehouse just a few months ago, the
issue wasn’t much of a factor in Tuesday’s outcomes.
“It wasn’t even
important to me as long as my needs were met in terms of our young person
and the safety of our city. Those trumped everything,” said Willie Gupton,
49, of Indianapolis, executive director of Kaleidoscope Youth Center.
What did strike a
chord was the need to make ends meet.
unemployment rate has dropped sharply in the past year, something Gov. Mike
Pence consistently points out. But the state’s median income, a measure used
to gauge how the middle class is performing, has also declined.
“There are jobs,
but you’ve gotta have three or four jobs to make it,” said Nina Whitsey, 74,
A study from the
Tax Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank, found that the
average tax burden for Hoosiers crept up from 2001-2011 while incomes
dropped. Pence’s staff says the numbers don’t take into account tax cuts
signed by the governor.
won sizable gains inside the Statehouse in the last two cycles. They won
back the House from Democrats in 2010 and built on that lead in 2012,
achieving a supermajority for the first time in decades. The recipe for
Republicans is to keep doing what they’ve been doing, said Pete Seat, an
Indiana Republican operative and former party spokesman.
“First, you focus
on and highlight the results of legislation that has been previously passed,
the positive effects of those policies, and second is continuing offering
ideas for the future,” Seat said. “I think that’s how Republicans have been
successful in the past several cycles.”