Chesterton Tribune

Bauer out and Lawson in as Indiana House Democrat leader

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Associated Press

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) Rep. Patrick Bauer conceded defeat Thursday in his battle to keep his job leading Indiana House Democrats, congratulating Rep. Linda Lawson as his successor after a majority of the caucus voted to oust him.

Bauer, who did not attend the meeting of disgruntled Democrats at a union hall in Lafayette, said he disagreed with the outcome but would not contest it. He had represented the caucus for a decade, most of that time as speaker.

"There's no question it was painful because these were people who I helped get elected," Bauer said after the vote. He said he supported the selection of Lawson, a retired Hammond police officer, and would continue helping Democratic candidates.

"I think Representative Lawson is a great leader. She has a great background, particularly in standing up for working people," Bauer said.

Asked about what drove members of the caucus to vote for Bauer's removal amid Democrats' general election bid to regain seats, Lawson said it was a "myriad of problems that we couldn't get resolved."

Some were unhappy with Bauer's unilateral decision-making, she said.

"Honestly, 40 heads are better than one," Lawson said.

Bauer's ouster occurred during a meeting attended by 23 of the 40 members of the caucus. Afterward, they refused to say how each member present had voted.

The group also picked three caucus members to act as deputies to Lawson in running the Democratic House campaigns: Ryan Dvorak of South Bend, Matt Pierce of Bloomington and Craig Fry of Mishawaka.

Many House Democrats were unhappy with Bauer's handling of campaign fundraising and spending heading into November, where they're hoping to shore up their position after bruising losses in 2010 gave Republicans a 60-40 majority in the House.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma has said he believes the GOP can win 67 seats in November. That would give Republicans a super majority allowing them to conduct business without any Democrats present.

If that happens, it would remove the last vestiges of clout held by Democrats, who, under Bauer, staged consecutive walkouts in 2011 and 2012 in an effort to block divisive right-to-work legislation. The five-week walkout succeeded in blocking the legislation in 2011, but periodic walkouts failed to derail the measure this year, and Gov. Mitch Daniels signed it into law.

He said Wednesday that the caucus began to splinter during the 2011 walkout, when some members stayed in an Urbana, Ill., hotel while others remained in Indianapolis.



Posted 7/26/2012