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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, July 10, 2018 1:00 am


Meaningful midterm

Off-year election has consequences at all levels

This editorial has been corrected to reflect that Christopher Judy is from Fort Wayne. 

Statehouse contests

Several northeast Indiana incumbents face legislative challenges. Oct. 9 is the deadline to register to vote:

Senate District 15

Kathy Zoucha (D)

Elizabeth “Liz” Brown (R-incumbent)

Senate District 17

Gary L. Snyder (D)

Andy Zay (R-incumbent)

House District 50

Jorge Fernandez (D)

Daniel J. (Dan) Leonard (R-incumbent)

House District 51

Michael M. Stephenson (D)

Dennis J. Zent (R-incumbent)

House District 52

Martha Lemert (D)

Ben Smaltz (R-incumbent)

House District 81

Kyle R. Miller (D)

Martin Carbaugh (R-incumbent)

House District 82

Mike Wilber (D)

David H. Abbot (R-elected in caucus)

House District 84

Curtis Nash (D)

Bob Morris (R-incumbent)

House District 85

Christopher J. Rex (D)

Dave Heine (R-incumbent)

As Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry's 2019 re-election announcement was drawing much attention on July 3, a key election deadline slipped by with little notice: The last day for the Republican and Democratic parties to fill vacancies on the November 2018 ballot.

When the deadline ticked past, Republicans extended their control of the Indiana Senate to 42 years, according to Indiana Legislative Insight. At most, Democrats could win only 25 Senate seats, but a tie still would result in GOP control because the governor's office is held by a Republican.

Before attention is entirely consumed by congressional contests – or by next year's city elections – voters would be wise to pay some attention to election contests closer to home. Policies enacted at the state level have as much or more of an effect on Hoosiers' lives than what happens – or more accurately doesn't happen – in Washington. Tax bills, neighborhood schools, highways, public health and more are shaped by the Indiana General Assembly. Regardless of your view of politics at the national level, it's important to participate to create stronger communities at home. 

November results will determine whether Republicans will maintain supermajority control of both the Senate and House. A red tide two years ago gave the GOP a 40-10 advantage in the Senate and a 70-30 lead in the House.

The quorum-proof majorities leave the Democrats effectively powerless and leave Hoosiers without the benefit of the moderating influence of a loyal opposition. 

Republicans have now controlled the General Assembly for six years, having picked up 21 seats in the House and three in the Senate since 2012. Legislation approved since that time has resulted in both tax cuts and increases, limits on unions, reduced regulations on business and utilities, and expansion of the school voucher program.

All of those issues should be under review by voters this fall. Debate in contested races also should examine the state's performance in protecting at-risk children, in supporting higher education and in the effectiveness of Indiana's economic performance, particularly with regard to raising wages.

In northeast Indiana, Republican Sens. Dennis Kruse of Auburn and Travis Holdman of Markle face no challengers. On the House side, Republican Reps. Curt Nisly of Goshen, Matt Lehman of Berne and Christopher Judy of Fort Wayne are unopposed, as is Fort Wayne Democrat Phil GiaQuinta. 

Senate President Pro Tem David Long announced in May he will not finish his current term, which expires in 2020. The Fort Wayne Republican will step down at the end of the year, with a successor to be chosen in a GOP caucus.

Nine contested races are on legislative ballots Nov. 6, in addition to U.S. House and Senate contests, statewide races and multiple county-level contests. Now is the time to register if you are not and to begin studying issues if you are. What happens at the Statehouse matters here.