SOUTHERN INDIANA — A redistricting map unveiled Tuesday splinters Floyd County’s state Senate representation and disrupts the plans of two Republicans who had already declared their intentions to run in 2022.
The proposed senate maps, which are likely to be approved by the Indiana General Assembly, were released as part of the required redistricting process. Notably for Southern Indiana, District 46 shifts north under the configuration to serve as a new district in Marion County.
Currently, District 46 encompasses Floyd County and Jeffersonville. The seat is held by Republican Sen. Ron Grooms, who has announced he will not seek re-election in 2022.
Two Floyd County Republicans — Shawn Carruthers and Kevin Boehnlein — announced over the summer they would run in the upcoming primary for a chance to replace Grooms. But they now find themselves located in District 47.
That district is represented by Republican Sen. Erin Houchin. Under the new map, District 47 will entail most of Floyd County beginning west of Silver Creek. Some portions of New Albany, along with Jeffersonville, will shift to District 45, which is represented by Republican Sen. Chris Garten.
Garten and Houchin are both up for re-election next year. It appears Houchin will likely have at least one of the former District 45 candidates in her primary.
“We have received a flood of phone calls over the past seven hours encouraging us to run,” Boehnlein said Tuesday evening. “As far as our volunteers and donors are concerned, nothing has changed except the maps.”
He added that redistricting, which is required every decade, is “always unpredictable.”
“As someone who has lived in New Albany, Georgetown and Greenville, what matters the most now is that residents of the new senate district — which includes the biggest part of us who live in Floyd County — are as well represented in the future as we have been in the past.”
Boehnlein hasn’t held elected office, but he has worked on several campaigns and has been endorsed by numerous officeholders in Clark County and Floyd County.
What appeared to be his primary opponent before Tuesday, Carruthers, is also a strong political figure locally. Carruthers is the president of the Floyd County Commissioners and the former chair of the Floyd County Republican Party.
Carruthers said Tuesday evening he was still reviewing the map and will make a decision about the state senate race in the near future.
“I entered the senate race hoping to have the honor of representing Southern Indiana, including my home area of Floyd County,” Carruthers said. “The new map is obviously dramatically different, but my goal of continuing to advance economic growth and opportunity for Southern Indiana hasn’t changed.”
Further complicating the political scene, New Albany City Councilman Al Knable, a Republican, has announced his intentions to seek Carruthers’ commissioners seat. That announcement was made after Carruthers declared for the senate race.
Many Democrats called for more transparency and fairness in the redistricting process. Floyd County Democratic Party Chair Adam Dickey said Tuesday that Republican legislators accomplished neither with their proposals.
As is the case in most states, the political party with the majority controls much of the redistricting process. In Indiana, Republicans hold a super majority, and Dickey said the state senate map is an example of how the GOP intends to strengthen its grasp.
“I think there’s no doubt with the state senate maps that we’re witnessing a colossal form of political gerrymandering happening here in Indiana,” Dickey said.
Moving the bulk of Floyd County into District 47 creates a rural and urban divide, he continued. The district would include Washington County and Harrison County, and Dickey said those areas often have different needs and concerns compared to a more urban place like Floyd County.
Jeffersonville and Clarksville would be in District 45, with only a small portion of New Albany included in the district. Dickey said those municipalities have common issues and that it doesn’t make sense to divide them into separate districts.
“Anyone who has lived in an urbanized area knows that there are differences between there and someone who lives in a rural area,” Dickey said.