Indiana News

2012 Was Year of Transition in Indiana Politics

Daniels, Lugar, Burton prepare to exit

12/31/2012

 

2012 saw several Indiana political veterans leave the stage.

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Supreme Court Justices Randall Shepard and Frank Sullivan called it quits. Term limits forced Mitch Daniels into retirement. The governorship stayed in Republican hands, but barely -- Mike Pence's 49-47 win over John Gregg was the narrowest margin for an Indiana governor in 52 years.

A conservative revolt ended Richard Lugar's career after 36 years in the Senate. State Treasurer Richard Mourdock buried him in a primary landslide. But Mourdock became a national shorthand for Republican dysfunction after answering a question about abortion in a debate with Democrat Joe Donnelly by declaring, "I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen." The race was already neck-and-neck, and the backlash over Mourdock's comment helped propel Donnelly to a six-point victory. He's the first Indiana Democrat not named Bayh to win a Senate seat since 1970.

After 30 years in Congress, Fifth District Representative Dan Burton was facing a second straight competitive primary when he announced his retirement due to family health issues. Former federal prosecutor Susan Brooks squeaked past former congressman David McIntosh by a thousand votes in an eight-way primary, then cruised to victory in November. She and the Second District's Jackie Walorski will be Indiana's first Republican women in Congress in 54 years.

South Bend's Patrick Bauer remains in the Indiana House, but for the first time since 2002, he's not the chamber's Democratic leader. Democrats fed up with what they charge was Bauer's high-handed leadership style ousted him in July. Whether despite or because of the coup, Republicans gained nine House seats in November for a walkout-proof majority.

And 2012 finally ended a lingering controversy from the 2010 election. Secretary of State Charlie White was found guilty of manipulating his voter-registration address during his campaign for the job. The felony conviction removed him from office. A month later, the Indiana Supreme Court rejected Democratic arguments that White's candidacy had been invalid because of the address problems, a stance which would have given the job to 2010 Democratic nominee Vop Osili. Instead, the decision cleared the way for Daniels to name Danville Senator Connie Lawson as White's successor.

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