This is a preview of races for the Indiana General Assembly. Nearly all the races I cover are on the GOP side, and since they have 37-13 and 69-31 edges in the Senate and House, you can see why. These are largely challenges from the right in the House, along with several open seats in the Senate. However, things are not likely to get better for Dems in November. Odds are that they will lose seats in the Senate and possibly the House. Also note that Senate races are staggered, but not even/odd numbers. All House seats are up every two years.
Senate Map- http://www.in.gov/...
SD-06- Benton, Newton, parts of Lake
Sen. Sue Landske (R-Cedar Lake) decided to retire for health reasons. Don't be fooled when you see Lake County- this is the Republican southern part of the county. Freshman Rep. Rick Niemeyer (R-Lowell) got in the race soon after Landske announced her retirement. He faces attorney Chris Shepherd in the primary. The Democrats also have a primary between school board member Lon Childress and Newton County Commissioner Roxanna Hanford. Safe Niemeyer for the GOP and tossup for the Dems. Hanford has a great profile, but you have to balance that against most of the votes in the Dem primary will be in Lake County. Either one will be at a big disadvantage in the fall.
SD-15- Part of Allen
Sen. Tom Wyss (R-Ft. Wayne) is retiring. Four strong Republicans are all running for this heavily gerrymandered seat that is shaped like a tornado. Republicans have split the Democratic precincts of Ft. Wayne into three districts paired with Republican suburban areas. This seat voted narrowly for Obama in 2008, and narrowly for Romney in 2012, but with the urban turnout drop off and Democrats likely to be worried about other races, there won't be much competition in the fall. Republicans have a four way race- Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries, former Ft. Wayne City Councilwoman Liz Brown, Jeff Snyder, and Allen County Councilman Darren Vogt. All say the standard Republican lines in their campaigns. The top candidates appear to be Fries and Brown. Fries seems to be getting a lot of establishment support and comes off eight years in a high profile job. Brown got some name recognition from her losing bid for Ft. Wayne Mayor, but now Vogt has been attacking Brown, so it may be hard to tell. This is a tossup.
SD-27- Randolph, Union, Wayne, part of Dearborn, Fayette, Franklin
Sen. Allen Paul is retiring in this GOP district. There are four Republicans running but it seems to be coming down to Jeff Raatz and Richmond City Councilman Bruce Wissel. Raatz is getting a lot of interest group endorsements, but Wissel may have an edge from his tenure on the City Council. Leans Wissel.
SD-31- Parts of Hamilton and Marion
Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) was a big winner in redistricting. He lost parts of Marion County and moved into heavily Republican Hamilton County. He does face a primary from Chrystal LaMotte, who used to be the spokeswoman for the Right to Life, and is pushing a very socially conservative agenda. She does not appear to be picking up much steam, but would hope her base turns out in a low turnout election. Likely Merritt.
SD-39- Daviess, Greene, Martin, Sullivan; parts of Clay, Knox and Spencer
Sen. John Waterman (R-Shelburne) is being challenged by Washington City Councilman Eric Bassler in SD-39 in SW Indiana. Waterman is one of the top social conservatives in the legislature, but is generally pro-labor and was a critic of Mitch Daniels to the point he even briefly launched a 3rd party write-in challenge. The Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity are in big for Bassler, while labor is in for Waterman, as are the Senate Republicans, who have given him a big infusion of late cash. One big problem for Waterman could be that he needs a big number out of Sullivan County, which is Democratic at the local level, and votes Waterman might get will pull Dem ballots in local races. Bassler should be able to count on good turnout from Daviess County, which is heavily Republican. This race is a tossup, but don't be surprised if Bassler wins here.
SD-43- Jennings, Ohio, Ripley, parts of Bartholomew, Dearborn, Franklin, Jackson
Longtime Sen. Johnny Nugent (R-Lawrenceburg) is retiring in this heavily Republican seat. Three Republicans are running, but businessman Chip Perfect, owner of Perfect North Slopes in Dearborn County got Nugent's endorsement, along with many others early and never looked back. His main opponent appears to be Ripley County Councilman Bill McDonald, but this seems to be Safe Perfect.
SD-47- Crawford, Harrison, Orange, Perry, Washington; part of Dubois
Sen. Richard Young (D-Milltown) got shafted in redistricting, losing Spencer and the Democratic part of Warrick County in exchange for Orange and Washington counties, which vote Republican. Young barely survived the 2010 GOP landslide against a weak opponent. The GOP recruited Erin Houchin, the SE Regional Director for Sen. Dan Coats to run. She is from Washington County, and has received lots of establishment money and support. First, she has to get past former judge Harris Whitis of Harrison County, who is attacking her establishment support. A Courier-Journal article about the race was not kind to him either. Whitis will be hurt by low turnout in Harrison County, but Houchin will lose votes because of a popular Democrat running for Sheriff in Washington County. Crawford and Perry Counties will cast a small amount of ballots, and Houchin appears to have an edge there. This race will come down to Orange County, a heavily Republican county with lots of high profile local races on the ballot. This race is Likely Houchin, but don't be shocked if her opponent throws the kitchen sink of nasty attacks at the last second to make the race closer. If Houchin wins the primary, Young will be in a tossup race at best, but would have an edge over Whitis.
SD-48- Pike, Spencer; parts of Gibson Knox, Warrick
Sen. Lindel Hume (D-Princeton) is retiring and Republicans smell a pickup. Rep. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) is running, as is losing SD-47 candidate Ted Metzger from Warrick County. Messmer has the money and endorsements and should have a strong edge here in the primary. He will face Dubois County Commissioner Larry Vollmer in the fall. This will be a close race in November. The district gained Spencer County and the Boonville area of Warrick County, which favor Democrats. Messmer will count on numbers from Gibson County, which has went heavily Republican lately, but the best Republican precincts in the county are in SD-49. The primary is Likely Messmer.
House Map- http://www.in.gov/...
HD-11- Parts of Lake and Porter
Rep. Rick Niemeyer is running for the State Senate, so this seat that was created in redistricting is open again. Republicans have a primary from candidates from both counties- Michael Mears- who lost s 2011 race for the Lowell City Council, and former Porter County Councilman Michael Aylesworth. This may be a turf battle. Democrats also have a primary between Lowell City Councilman Jim Kuiper and businessman Jim Metro of Cedar Lake. Both are from Lake County. Kuiper and Aylesworth got the endorsement of the NW Indiana Times. Metro has labor support. The GOP race is a tossup, but the Dem race is Leans Kuiper. The good news is that while this seat is GOP leaning, Dems may have the candidate edge in the fall.
HD-19- Parts of Lake and Porter
Republicans have a primary to decide to see who takes on Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh (D-Crown Point), who is in a very competitive district, which has a slight GOP lean. Julie Olthoff is facing Chris Reston. This race is Likely Olthoff. It will be interesting to see if the GOP puts forward resources to try to gain this seat in November.
HD-21- Parts of Elkhart and Kosciusko
Rep. Rebecca Kubacki (R-Syracuse) knocked off a moderate Republican in 2010, and is now in the crosshairs of the religious right for her vote against gay marriage and for day care regulation. She is being challenged by Curt Nisly, the husband of the Elkhart GOP Chair. Kubacki seems to have let Nisly get the better of her and socially conservative organizations want to make an example out of her. This is one to watch on election night. This race also has another twist- Kubacki is a favorite of the Chamber of Commerce, while the majority of Nisly's money has come from a group called "Lunch Pail Republicans PAC", which is funded by labor. I will go out on a limb here and call this one Leans Nisly.
HD-25- Parts of Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Tippecanoe, White
Rep. Don Lehe (R-Brookston) is facing a rematch with Franklin Voorhies, who he defeated in 2012. Lehe has never been particularly popular, and Voorhies is running from the right. Lehe got a lot of new territory in 2012- his old district stretched to Lake County, and may be getting a better footing now. Likely Lehe.
HD-32- Tipton; Parts of Delaware, Grant, Howard, Hamilton, Madison
Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero) had faced an ethics probe for a conflict of interest involving his family's nursing homes. However, he was cleared by the Ethics Committee, so this race is no longer competitive. Safe Turner.
HD-39- Part of Hamilton
Put Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) in with Kubacki- Chamber of Commerce favorites who opposed HJR-3 and are being challenged for it. Torr was also the author of right to work. He is being challenged by Don Meier, who is hitting him on support for regional mass transit, which he says will cause a tax increase. Like Kubacki's opponent, Meier is getting support from labor, who is supporting him with mailers. Meier is also active in the Tea Party movement, and would not likely be pro-labor. Unions may just be in payback mode, but it will likely fail here. This race is Lean Torr.
HD-48- Part of Elkhart
Rep. Tim Neese (R-Elkhart) is retiring to focus on a race for Mayor Elkhart in 2015. There is a three way GOP race here and Dems have no chance in the fall. Businessman Doug Miller has raised the most money and is focused on economic issues. Jesse Bohannon is the furthest to the right and even would expand vouchers to home schoolers. The last candidate Adam Bujalski is the Vice-Chair of the Elkhart GOP and may have an edge for that reason. He is also not supporting expanding vouchers, which could give him a few votes among the stray Dem that may vote in the primary here. Lean Bujalski.
HD-59- Part of Bartholomew
Rep. Milo Smith (R-Columbus) is being challenged by Bartholomew County Council President Ryan Lauer. Smith was the person whose committee finally took up HJR-3 after Speaker Bosma had trouble finding one that he could guarantee passage through. Smith also made the news when his son, who is gay, opposed his efforts. However, Lauer agrees with Smith on the issue. Brian Howey describes it is old guard versus new guard, but notes Smith's endorsement in this district by Mike Pence carries a lot of weight. Leans Smith
HD-63- Parts of Daviess, Dubois, Martin and Pike
Rep. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) is running for the State Senate and two Jasper Republicans are fighting for the nomination here. Businessman Mike Braun is taking on Dr. Richard Moss. Braun has Chamber of Commerce support, but Moss has practices in Jasper and Washington. His name recognition in Daviess County will help him, as it will be a big source of primary votes. While this seat is GOP leaning because of Daviess and Martin Counties, it is inexcusable that Dems could not even find a candidate here, but maybe they will by June 30. The primary is a tossup.
HD-66- Scott, parts of Clark and Jefferson
There is a three way GOP primary here. I do not plan to say anything about the candidates. Rep. Terry Goodin (D-Austin) is one of the two remaining old Southern Indiana Democrats left in the General Assembly (the other is Kreg Battles (D-Vincennes), and then Rep. Steve Stemler (D-Jeffersonville), who is in a remaining urban district, but seems protected). Goodin had a family emergency and missed votes on HJR-3, but had been a previous supporter. He and his family have a long history in Scott County, but Republicans are hoping newly Republican trending Clark County will have them a good shot in November.
HD-83- Parts of Allen and Whitley
Rep. Kathy Heuer (R-Columbia City) faces a challenge from the right as well from Christopher Judy. She is being attacked for her opposition to HJR-3, supporting common core, and daycare regulation. Judy is from Aboite Township in Allen County, while Heuer is from Whitley County and there are slightly more people in the Allen portion. This is one to watch, but I rate it is Lean Heuer.
HD-84- Part of Allen
People probably remember Rep. Bob Morris (R-Ft. Wayne) for his controversial statements about the Girl Scouts promoting lesbians. Many local Republicans even didn't care for those statements, and some establishment support is going to attorney Michael Barranda, who is more moderate in this largely urban/suburban GOP district. This race is a tossup.
HD-85- Part of Allen
Rep. Casey Cox (R-Ft. Wayne) was appointed after Rep. Phyllis Pond (R-New Haven) died. Cox is being attacked for voting to delete the civil union language from HJR-3. He faces two challengers. He faces Ken Knoblauch, a teacher, and Denny Worman, who challenged the moderate Pond from the right in several primaries. This race is a tossup.
HD-91- Parts of Hendricks and Marion
Rep. Robert Behning (R-Indianapolis) has been one of the major forces behind some of the radical education policies of the current and past governor, including school vouchers. He faces a challenge from Michael Scott, who ran against Behning in 2012. Behning is worried- he is attacking Scott on television, who is being backed by teachers and labor. People can request whichever primary ballot they want, so Democrats in the district may call for GOP ballots to vote out Behning. Brian Howey says Scott is trying to put together a Glenda Ritz type coalition. This race is a tossup.