The Associated Press
A few key things worth knowing about Indiana’s election Tuesday:
Think the presidential race is only between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney? Wrong. Indiana voters can pick among 19 candidates for president — Obama, Romney, Libertarian Gary Johnson and 16 write-in candidates, including former Virginia Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr. and Randall Terry, the founder of anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. But don’t look for an upset. Obama ended a 44-year drought for Democrats with his 2008 Indiana presidential victory, but the state’s 11 electoral votes have gone largely uncourted this year, and Romney is favored to hand the state back to the GOP.
Libertarian candidate Rupert Boneham of “Survivor” television fame traded his tie-dyed T-shirts for business suits during his campaign for governor. But he hasn’t gained much ground in his effort to shake up the race with Republican Mike Pence and Democrat John Gregg. Fellow Libertarian Andy Horning could fare better in the Senate race, with polls showing him with enough support to potentially play spoiler if the race between Republican Richard Mourdock and Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly winds up being close.
THE LUGAR EFFECT
The hotly contested Senate battle between Mourdock and Donnelly could come down to whoever wins the moderate and independent voters who favored longtime U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar. Both sides have courted those voters heavily, with Mourdock tamping down his tea party rhetoric after the primary and Donnelly working to portray himself as a moderate Democrat best suited to carry on Lugar’s tradition of bipartisanship. Lugar stayed out of the fray, refusing to campaign for Mourdock after the bruising primary ended his 36-year Senate career. The race could help determine control of the U.S. Senate.
A LEGISLATIVE MAKEOVER
All 100 Indiana House seats and 25 of the 50 state Senate seats are up for grabs. And thanks to Republican-led redistricting and retirements of longtime members such as Republican Rep. Jeff Espich of Uniondale, there will be many new faces once the dust settles. The most closely watched races include House District 45, which pits two incumbents — Republican Bruce Borders and Democrat Kreg Battles — against each other, and District 60, where it’s the battle of the Peggys — Democratic Rep. Peggy Welch and Republican Peggy Mayfield.
HOW LOW CAN DEMOCRATS GO?
Democrats are currently outnumbered 37-13 in the state Senate and 60-40 in the House. Their bruising losses in 2010 contributed to the ouster of Patrick Bauer as the Democrats’ House leader this summer. With new Minority Leader Linda Lawson in place, Democrats hope to minimize their losses as they begin rebuilding. The stakes are high for both parties. If Democrats lose more than seven seats in the House, Republicans will have a supermajority that would allow them to conduct business with no Democrats present. After two years of Democrat-led walkouts over right-to-work labor legislation, that is an appealing prospect for the GOP.