Monday, July 17, 2006

Indiana House GOP's Prospects Dim

House Speaker Brian Bosma's hopes of retaining control of his slim 52-48 majority in the Indiana House grew dimmer today with the unexpected announcements of Rep. Ralph Ayres (R-Chesterton) and Rep. Andy Thomas (R-Brazil) that they are withdrawing their re-election bids, leaving the GOP to scramble at the last minute to seek ballot replacements for them. The Star's Mary Beth Schneider quotes House Majority Floor Leader Bill Friend as saying, "It's always significant when you have departures that you really didn't anticipate."

While Thomas' seat has been considered a safe Republican seat and Ayres' seat has been considered marginally in favor of the Republicans, both Ayres' and Thomas' seats are now rated as toss-ups by Brian Howey of the Howey Political Report. That list already included 6 races by his count. He considers today's announcement a "blow" to the GOP's hopes of retaining control. HPR has rated 31 seats safe for the Republicans this year compared to 36 seats he views as being safe for the Democrats.

The Democrats nominated Sylvia Graham to run against Ayres. She is the former President of the Porter Co. Tourism Association. Richard Thompson, a township trustee, was nominated by the Democrats to challenge Thomas. While Thomas' seat is Republican-leaning, a significant portion of this district was represented by former Rep. Susan Crosby (D-Brazil) for many years before her retirement back several years ago.

Today's late announcement by the two comes as a big surprise to both political parties. The life-time health insurance benefit does not appear to be the driving motivation for either's retirement; in Thomas' case, he has not served long enough to qualify for the benefit.


Anonymous said...

WOW. Ayres and Thomas were two of the last moderates remaining in the Republican caucus. I can only think of one other -- Rep. John Ulmer.

Considering fellow moderate Rep. Mary Kay Budak (who was soundly defeated by the Republican Right in the primary) was Ayres' closest caucus friend ... and Rep. Thomas barely survived a Right-driven primary challenge last election ... and that this was the last day they could do withdraw without moving out of their districts ... and that these two moderates did it at the same time, doesn't this smell like a "F**k you Speaker Bosma and the righteous elephant you rode in on" move?

Gary R. Welsh said...

I think Bill Friend's comment says it all. Clearly, neither one of these two guys were doing Bosma any favors with their last-minute withdrawals.