> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
A district over, the issues were much the same for Smith and Lewis. However, the race was a different one.
Smith, 44, a former member of the Clark County Council, unseated a 34-year incumbent in defeating Lewis.
The race was called late and Smith didn’t hear about the victory until a reporter’s call.
“Holy cow,” he said, adding it was exciting to have beat a such a long-serving member of the senate. The interview was cut short because Smith had other calls coming in.
Senate District 45 is largely rural, including parts of Clark, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Scott, Switzerland, and Washington Counties. Communities in the district include Charlestown, Henryville, Hanover and Scottsburg.
The wins by Grooms and Smith add two new republican seats to an already GOP-dominated chamber of the Indiana State Legislature.
The two are now tasked with working alongside fellow legislators to adopt a state budget, which is due by April. The state’s budget forecasts — showing deficits in the next two fiscal years — are a grim reminder of the economic climate. Figuring out a fix for the state’s insolvent state unemployment fund will also be high atop the to-do list for the next session.