Thursday, May 04, 2006

Race To Replace Garton Heating Up

The race to replace Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton (R) is already heating up. The bad news for the would-be leader, he or she is going to have to wait until November to take on the new title because Garton does not intend to step down before then reports Mary Beth Schneider of the Star.

On the moderate or more sane side, talk centers around Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), Sen. David Long (R-Ft. Wayne) and Sen. James Merritt (R-Indianapolis). You can count out Merritt right away. The caucus will not select a leader from Indianapolis because Speaker Bosma is from Indianapolis. That would allow too much power to be centered in Indianapolis, and there are plenty in the caucus who already think it has too much power. Sen. Kenley and Sen. Long no doubt both want it badly. Sen. Kenley wanted it so badly he once tried to topple Garton and found himself backbenched for having done so. He also has a very bad temper as I once (or twice) personally experienced.

On the extremist side, you have two professional politicians, Sen. Jeff Drozda (R-Westfield) and Sen. Mike Delph (R-Zionsville). Neither of these guys has been in the caucus long, and the Senate is not a body to advance people at the back of the line to the front of the line. Drozda also seems to be doing a little bit too much talking publicly about the race--a real no-no in internal Senate caucus affairs. As the AP's Mike Smith writes today, "Drozda went further, predicting that the next Senate leader would come from a group of "maybe about 15 individuals who would like to see change and would like to see the discussion go to a more fiscally and socially conservative slant. He said it was too early to speculate on particular senators, but said he would anticipate 'maybe a meeting of like-minded individuals to discuss names and philosophies and future opportunities' after senators had time to regroup."

Niki Kelly of the Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette touts Ft. Wayne's Long as a likely successor to Garton. She writes, "Fort Wayne Republican Sen. David Long became a popular guy Wednesday. After all, he could be the next president pro tempore of the Indiana Senate." I'm with Kelly. My bet is on Long becoming the next Senate President Pro Tem.


Jeff Newman said...

I heard the name Patricia Miller mentioned on two different radio news programs on my way to Ft. Wayne this morning. God help us if a right-wing nutjob like Miller is a real contender.

I don't think the GLBT community has absorbed the potential enormity of Garton's defeat. He may not have been an outspoken public supporter, but behind the scenes he was a powerful moderating force against the wingnuts.

My prediction is it's going to get very, very ugly, with the so-called marriage amendment being only the tip of the iceberg.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The AP story actually dropped in her name, but I don't think anyone takes that threat seriously. I don't think the health care providers could pass out enough money to make that happen. She also has the same problems as Merritt in being from Indianapolis

Gary R. Welsh said...

Jim Shella throws Brent Steele's name into the mix. At least one respected lobbyist I know agrees with Shella. His problem though is that he comes down on the side of trial lawyers on certain issues that doesn't sit well with the business community.

Marla R. Stevens said...

Steele/Long...Frying Pan/Fire.