Sunday, November 4, 2012

Predictions: Marion County State Senate Districts

Marion County features some close state senate races.  Let's review them.

SENATE DISTRICT 30 (most of Washington Township, parts of Carmel and Fishers in Hamilton County) 

This northside race features State Senator Scott Schneider who very impressively won his seat in a vacancy caucus of Republican precinct committeemen in 2009 against then councilor Ryan Vaughn who had the support of virtually every party insider. Schneider is facing newcomer attorney Tim Delaney, whose father, Ed Delaney, is a state representative also from the northside.   Fred (F.C.) Peterson, a Libertarian is also running.  Peterson's appearance in the race could be critical.

State Senator
Scott Schneider
Both Schneider and Delaney come from long-time political families active in Washington Township.  The race features a stark philosophical divide, with liberal Delaney trying to link conservative Schneider to U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.  Schneider meanwhile has been hammering Delaney for his opposition to the constitutional amendment imposing property tax caps. 

From what I've been told, this is a 50-50 district.  I have known Scott Schneider for a number of years.  He is a very personable and intelligent candidate, who understands retail politics.  Delaney, who is probably in his early 30s (can't find his age on line) but looks younger, may be perceived by voters as a few years away from being ready.  I was told once that voters don't take you seriously as a candidate until you have gray hair or are going bald.  Delaney is 0 for 2 in that regard.

Libertarian's Peterson's presence though is problematic, especially for Schneider.  Republicans unhappy with their nominee often "default" by voting Libertarian.  If Peterson pulls in several hundred Republican votes that otherwise would go to Schneider, it might tip the balance to Delaney.  Still though, on balance, I am going with Schneider.

SENATE DISTRICT 32: includes the southern part of Warren Township, all of Franklin Township and portions of eastern Center and Perry Townships)
Senator Pat Miller
This district is now entirely contained in Marion County. Incumbent and long-time legislator Republican Pat Miller faces former Democratic state representative John Barnes whose former house district includes some of the new Senate District 32.

Barnes is a strong candidate. He has been attempting to portray Senator Miller as too conservative for the district. I expect Barnes to come within about 5% or 6% of Miller on election night. This district will likely be even more competitive in 2016 and 2020.

SENATE DISTRICT 35 (includes Speedway, southern Wayne Township, southern 1/3 of Hendricks County including Plainfield and Clayton)

This district features a battle between incumbent and long-time legislator Republican Mike Young and Democratic attorney Mark Waterfill.While the Marion County area of the district is Democratic, the Hendricks County area tips the district to the Republicans.   

Senator R. Michael Young

I went to junior high with Mark Waterfill down in Madison, Indiana. Our paths crossed at Hanover College to for a year. I also know Senator Mike Young from various campaigns. Senator Young is a very independent-minded Republican with solid conservative credentials. But Young has proven very adept at getting legislation passed to address problems his constituents have or to address wrongs. Senator Young authored the legislation aimed at stopping the Marion County Traffic Court from fining people simply for asking for a trial. He also authored the bill aimed at limiting the abuse of public intoxication law to arrest people who had done nothing wrong but be intoxicated in a public place. He also was author of the legislation dealing with the fallout from the Barnes v. State illegal entry case.

In Waterfill, the Democrats recruited an excellent candidate. Having lived in the Hendricks County portion of the district for years, he may be able to blunt Young's appeal to Republicans in that county. But Young is a smart politico and his involvement in drawing the Senate maps means its unlikely this district is poised for a Democratic pickup. Maybe down the road, but not this year.

SENATE DISTRICT 36:  (includes a good chunk of Center Township, Perry Township, and a tiny bit of Johnson County)
Mary Ann Sullivan
This race features Republican Senator Brent Waltz running against Democratic Representative Mary Ann Sullivan.  The newly drawn district only goes into Johnson County now to pick up Waltz's residence. Otherwise much of the district is new territory for Waltz.  While the district is slightly more Republican than Senate District 30, I don't believe Waltz is quite the retail politician Schneider is.  Further, Sullivan is an experienced legislator who has carved out an independent path, in particular when it comes to education reform.  I'm going to predict Sullivan wins this race.

SENATE DISTRICT 33 and 34:  These Marion County districts are currently held by Democrats Greg Taylor and Jean Breaux respectively.   Senator Taylor is opposed by Libertarian Gena Martinez.  Senator Breaux's only opposition is an independent write-in candidate Eric "The Nobody" Scott.  Senators Taylor and Breaux will be re-elected.

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