Sen. Nugent Ready To “Pass The Torch”
By Mike Perleberg
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – A longtime state lawmaker officially announced that he is ready to call it a career after representing a portion of southeast Indiana at the statehouse in Indianapolis for the past 36 years.
Lawrenceburg Republican Sen. Johnny Nugent has never lost an election since first being voted in Senate District 43 since 1978. During an event at Perfect North Slopes in Dearborn County on Monday evening, Nugent said the decision to not run in 2014 didn’t come easy.
“Voluntarily giving up the senate seat has been one of my more difficult decisions,” he told a crowd of over 100 supporters. “However, after a great amount of thoughtful prayer and quiet personal reflection I have concluded that it’s time to pass the torch to a younger generation.”
The 74-year-old said his “plate has been on overload” since the untimely death of his son-in-law and business partner of the 50-year family business, Nugent Tractor Sales in Lawrenceburg, combined with his responsibilities as a state senator. He said his health remains good, but he’d like to have time to read a novel or vacation with his wife, Nancy.
In between cracking jokes during his speech, Nugent said he was thankful for the voters who elected him time and time again. He also pointed to his efforts to preserve and expand Second Amendment rights in Indiana and spearheading an effort to bring riverboat gaming to the state as the legislative accomplishments he is most proud of.
“It’s been a great ride which I’ll cherish forever,” Nugent said.
Dearborn-Ohio County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard called Nugent a conservative foot soldier who had exactly what it takes to serve over the course of seven different Indiana governors. Nugent, he said, wanted to help people.
“We are here to recognize and thank Senator Nugent for his leadership and service for the past 36 years,” Negangard said, adding that Nugent is proof that elections matter.
New Candidate Gets Nugent’s Endorsement
During his address, Nugent threw his endorsement to friend and Perfect North Slopes owner Chip Perfect in the 2014 Senate District 43 election. Nugent joked that voters of the district will have the opportunity to elect the “perfect” senator.
But the ski area mogul downplayed what his name implies, stating that he believes “perfect” is a noun, not an adjective. Perfect said that he had been thinking of a run for state office for some time before Monday’s announcement.
He recalled a visit to a football game at his alma mater, Purdue University, last year where he met with incoming university president and outgoing Governor Mitch Daniels. Daniels advised Perfect that if he has the opportunity to be a part of a majority – Republicans currently have supermajorities in the Indiana House and Senate – a lawmaker can get things done.
“I plan to get things done,” Perfect said in announcing his intention to run. “It’s my concern about preserving opportunity that made me decide to run. I’m very concerned about opportunity for my kids, for your kids, for you and me.”
Politics is the latest undertaking for Perfect, who in addition to founding Perfect North Slopes in 1980 has had a number of successful business ventures in Dearborn County including Greendale Cinemas, Lawrenceburg Speedway, restaurants, and more.
Perfect said that, if elected, he will use his experience as an entrepreneur in finding ways to break down barriers for the next generation of business owners. He told the crowd about a recent conversation with John Maxwell of Greendale-based Maxwell Construction about extensive government regulations that exist now.
“If experienced people like me and John and many of you in this room cannot break down those walls or climb over them, then how are young people with new ideas or new ventures or a lot of enthusiasm going to break through that when they don’t have the resources that we do?” Perfect asked.
The candidate did not offer any specific proposals aimed at accomplishing his objectives. Those could come out as campaign season approaches.
No other candidates have publicly announced their intentions to run in District 43 next year, yet. However, Perfect’s support among Dearborn County Republicans, vast business connections, finances, and Nugent’s endorsement make him a probable front-runner and could deter others from entering the race.
Nugent easily won victory in the May Republican primary in his last election in 2010 before going uncontested in the November general election. In 2006, he defeated a Democrat challenger in the general election with 69 percent of the vote.
District 43 includes portions of Dearborn, Ripley, Jennings, Decatur, Bartholomew, and Jackson counties as well as all of Ohio County.