Indiana News

State Senate Race Turns Expectations Upside Down

ISTA backs GOP Sen. Waltz; Dem challenger Sullivan has Chamber's nod


Democrats are trying to make gains in the Senate by focusing on Indianapolis, including a topsy-turvy race on the south side.

Unsurprisingly, the Indiana Chamber backs one candidate and the Indiana State Teachers Association backs the other in Greenwood Senator Brent Waltz's race against Indianapolis Representative Mary Ann Sullivan. But it's the Republican Waltz who has the teachers' backing, while Sullivan won the Chamber's endorsement.

Sullivan co-sponsored charter school expansion in the House, and says she's confident from the questionnaires she's sent in her House district that the public supports the education reforms the ISTA has opposed.

Waltz may have lost the Chamber's support when he was one of the few Republicans to vote against the right-to-work law. He boasts he's had a pro-business, fiscally conservative record in eight years in the Senate.

Both candidates stress the importance of creating jobs. Sullivan's lobbying for a major push into the food industry -- she says Indiana's agricultural strengths position it to gain a foothold in the food storage, processing and distribution. Waltz emphasizes the importance of a friendly business climate, but says he believes the Daniels Administration has accomplished that. He says he'd rather keep a watchful eye on Indiana's balance sheet than push to embrace either of the competing tax cut proposals offered by gubernatorial candidates Mike Pence and John Gregg.

Democrats would have to manage the unlikely feat of winning all 16 contested Senate races and the governorship to gain control of the Senate for the first time in 34 years. But a gain of four seats would allow them to break the walkout-proof supermajority Republicans have held the last two years. Along with a challenge to Valparaiso Senator Ed Charbonneau, Democrats contend redistricting gives them a shot at four Marion County Senate seats. Waltz maintains his new district is actually a tiny bit more Republican than before.


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