Thursday, July 8, 2010

Indiana Democrats Working On Reducing Republican Senate Majority

By Jon E. Easter

The Indiana Senate majority is currently lopsided in favor of Republicans. If you’ve been watching politics, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

Right now there are 33 Republicans and just 17 Democrats. While the numbers have been different, for Democrats, Dems have been in the minority since the late 1970’s, according to Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson. It’s likely going to be that way for a while longer.

The Republicans will not lose control of the Senate in 2010. No matter how much Democrats spend or contribute, it’s not going to happen. Republicans control the Senate and the Governor’s Office, and they will for at least two more years. Republicans will be in charge of drawing Senate districts, and they can pretty much run roughshod over the Democratic caucus even forcing some Democratic Senators into the same district creating Primary Election battles.

While all that may be true, there are winnable seats here in 2010, and it’s important to knock down the Republican majority as much as possible. Two high-level Republicans have great Democratic challengers and will be fighting the battles of their political lives to stay in office.

On the northeast side of Indianapolis, term-limited Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson is taking on the powerful Jim Merritt in Senate District 31. In Senate District 29, the charismatic Robin Shackleford has the task of knocking off anti-immigration activist Mike Delph.

Of the two seats, District 31 looks very promising for Anderson. The district is completely contained within Marion County. Shackleford could prevail in Marion County, but her district includes suburban areas like Carmel and much of Hamilton County. It will be much tougher sledding for a Democrat in those areas. For example, in 2008, Democrat Mike Cesnik prevailed in the Marion County portion of Senate District 35 over Senator Mike Young. Outside of Marion County, Young trounced Cesnik and was re-elected.

Simpson told the delegates at the Indiana State Democratic Convention that there are a few more seats in play across the state as well as a couple of Democrats that might be challenged heavily. If the Democrats pick up three or four seats, that will help. Things will seem much closer if the Democrats can knock that Republican total of seats below 30. There seems to be an outside chance of this happening in 2010. Unlike the House, not all seats are up for grabs now.

Whatever the case, chipping away at that Republican majority seems to be the likely scenario for Democrats. All is not lost, and D’s cannot give up. The Democratic Party must hold the Republican-led Senate accountable and continue to recruit good, hardworking candidates. This can turn around, but it’s still going to take a lot of patience and time to bring it through.

It's CRUCIAL to hold to the House for Democrats. Two years of complete Republican control of state government could be disastrous for public schools, local government, and organized labor.

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