Bauer Out, Lawson In As House Dems’ Leader
(Lafayette, Ind.) – Indiana’s top Democrat has been given the boot by his own party members.
During a Thursday meeting in Lafayette, a Democratic caucus voted to remove South Bend State Rep. Pat Bauer as the House minority leader. Of the 40 House Democrats, 23 voted to go a new direction. Bauer did not attend.
Bauer had held the leadership position for ten years, including seven years as House Speaker when Democrats had the advantage over Republicans in the House.
State Rep. Linda Lawson (D-Hammond) was tapped as the new minority leader. She will serve in the roll through the November election.
Bauer did not like the decision to remove him and said he will remain an active member in the caucus.
“I thought it was pretty ugly. But they came out with a good person to move on, somebody I felt would be a good floor leader. So they emulated my choice for a leader,” Bauer told the Indianapolis Star.
Members said the decision wasn’t personal, but the result of Democrat unrest after losing a House majority in 2010 and legislative defeats. Some were said to be dissatisfied with Bauer’s tight control on every policy and political decision.
“All of love and respect Pat, and respect more so what he has done to bring us to this point, but now we need a new direction,” said Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary).
Representative Scott Pelath said voting to oust Bauer was tough to do.
“This has been one of the most personally heartbreaking things that many of us have ever had to go through,” Pelath said.
Indiana Democrat Party Chairman Dan Parker congratulated Lawson on her new position. The party will respect the caucus’ decision and support Lawson going forward.
“We also want to salute former House Democratic Leader Pat Bauer for his service to the caucus and at the Statehouse. He has been a strong voice for our party during both prosperous and difficult times, and he has always advocated for working Hoosiers,” Parker said.
Democrats are now preaching unity as the November 6 election – which brings the threat of further losses in the House because Republicans controlled the redrawing of legislative district maps in 2011 – nears.
“We remain focused first and foremost on electing more Democrats to the Indiana House in November and beyond. We believe working Hoosiers and middle-class families deserve a voice in government they are not currently afforded under unyielding Republican control, and we will fight every day to bring bipartisan representation back to the Statehouse,” said Parker.
Republican Party Chairman Eric Halcomb weighed in on the news.
“If this stands, we’re sorry to see Pat Bauer go,” he said.