Downs: Indiana 'Certainly a Republican State'
The director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue University Fort Wayne says results from Tuesday's midterm elections show Indiana can be characterized as a "Republican state," instead of the "Conservative state" designation he had always used. Andy Downs, an associate professor of political science, says "coattails still exist" in the state in positive and negative ways and were on display in the U.S. Senate race where Republican challenger Mike Braun soundly defeated incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.). Republicans swept the statewide office races on the ballot and didn't lose any seats in the U.S. House, but did lose a small amount of ground in the Indiana House and Senate.
"Given the electoral success of the Republican Party, I think that it's appropriate to say (Indiana is) a Republican state and Democrats have their work cut out for them whether they are conservative or liberal," Downs said. "Two senatorial races in a row -- 2016 and 2018 -- we had candidates who appeared to be the prototypical, statewide Democratic successful candidate -- one of them was actually that prototype, Evan Bayh -- and Joe Donnelly. That model may not be the way for Democrats to win statewide races now. They may have to be looking at doing something else."
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Downs discussed potential impacts in the next General Assembly. The 2019 General Assembly is scheduled to gather for Organization Day November 20 and the first day of the session will be January 8. The 2019 session will include the crafting of the biennial budget.
"I think that the change in leadership on the respective budget committees in the two chambers probably will have more effect on the budget -- certainly the budget process -- than the election results from yesterday," Downs said. Ryan Mishler (R-9) will succeed the retired Luke Kenley (R-20) on the Senate Appropriations Committee and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Tim Brown's (R-41) status for the upcoming session remains unclear following a serious motorcycle crash in September. "The budget is something that requires a level of expertise that an individual who won an election yesterday probably doesn't have and wouldn't necessarily be in a position of leadership on the budget anyway," he said.
At the time of this article's publication, with election results in Newton and Porter counties still pending, the Republican supermajority stands at 67-33 in the Indiana House and 40-10 in the Indiana Senate.
In the Congress, all races are final with Braun winning a Senate seat, incumbent representatives Pete Visclosky (D-1), Jackie Walorski (R-2), Jim Banks (R-3), Susan Brooks (R-5), Andre Carson (D-7), Larry Bucshon (R-8) and Trey Hollingsworth (R-9) winning decisively and newcomers Jim Baird in the Fourth District and Greg Pence in the Sixth District holding on to GOP seats that will be vacated.