(AP) — A few hundred voters in a handful of Indiana House districts could
make a huge difference in state policies hashed out over the next two
years — and the next decade.
decide Nov. 2 whether Democrats will retain their slim 52-48 majority in
the state House or whether the GOP will rule the House along with the
state Senate and governor's office.
will affect how the state manages its budget problems, what Gov. Mitch
Daniels gets done during the last two years of his term and whether
policies previously blocked by Democrats will get renewed life.
And — as if
that wasn't enough of a prize — whoever controls the Statehouse next year
will also get to draw political maps for the next decade after census
numbers are released, having the potential to affect elections through
spoils up for grabs, Republicans have cast a wide net by going hard after
numerous seats now held by Democrats. Television ads — including many paid
for by Daniels' political action committee — are running across the state,
and candidates are hitting the pavement to make their final pushes with
less than two weeks to go.
make the argument that their party is best equipped to create a balanced,
responsible new two-year state budget in 2011. House Minority Leader Brian
Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Republicans would focus on job creation and
fiscal integrity if they win control.
could also support some issues Daniels has pushed with limited success
under Democratic House control, such as expanding charter schools and
reducing local government.
perspective, it's whether or not the governor and this administration will
continue to have obstructionists they've experienced in the House or
whether they'll have somebody willing to work with them," state GOP
Chairman Murray Clark said of the election.
House Speaker Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, has also blocked social issues
during his time as speaker, including a constitutional ban on same-sex
marriage (saying Indiana's state law banning gay marriage works) and bills
to crack down on illegal immigration (saying immigration is an issue for
the federal government).
such command and control by Rep. Bauer over the last four years that even
measures that were wildly supported — if they didn't meet his personal
approval — went to the killing fields," Bosma said. "That's not how
democracy is supposed to work."
their control of the House provides an important check to GOP ideas. Bauer
noted in a letter to The Indianapolis Star last month that the lease of
the Indiana Toll Road to a private operator was passed in 2006 — when
Republicans last controlled the House, Senate and governor's office.
Democrats will continue to question and challenge the Daniels
remind everyone that the strides forward that have taken place in recent
years — property tax relief and the Healthy Indiana Plan, to name just two
— have come when two parties work together," Bauer wrote. "It has proven
to be a better plan than one party — and one man — giving the orders and
being accountable to no one."
neither party expect the decades-long Republican control of the state
Senate to be threatened. The GOP now has a 33-17 majority — and a gain of
one seat would give Republicans a two-thirds majority allowing them to
conduct business even without any Democrats in the chamber.
are focusing their efforts in about a dozen House districts that could be
in play this year. Republicans need to have a net gain of three seats to
seize control of the House — and likely return Bosma to the speaker's
three districts won their seats in 2008 by fewer than 500 votes, and a
couple Republican incumbents won their last races by even closer margins.
Republicans expect to make gains in southern Indiana, where
dissatisfaction with Washington seems to be high and districts are
becoming more aligned with the GOP because of suburban growth around
cities like Louisville, Ky.
Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said the House has had close
elections for years — the chamber was split 50-50 after the 1996 election
— and he expects no less from this year's contentious election.
"It's going to
be close once again this year," Parker said.