The Louisville Courier Journal is running an AP story by Mike Smith focusing on Senator Garton’s primary challenge. Senator Bob Garton was elected in 1970 and has been leader of the Senate since 1980. For much of that time he controlled the Senate with 3 of his colleagues: Larry Borst, Morrie Mills, and Joe Harrison. Harrison is retiring this year, Mills retired several years ago, and Borst was ousted in a primary challenge by social conservative Brent Waltz. Garton faces a similar challenge from Greg Walker, another social conservative who is the darling of anti-choice groups like Indiana Right to Life.
In my opinion, it’s a shame that Republicans more focused on fiscal responsibility are being targeted by Republicans with more repressive social agendas. By-and-large, I and (I think) most Hoosiers agree with a responsible fiscal policy. Social conservatism is much more divisive. Unfortunately, I think less informed voters will see “Republican” and think they’re getting Republicans like Garton and Kenley when really they’ll be getting wingnuts like Waltz and Drozda.
Bob Garton has done an awful lot for the Indiana Senate. My understanding is that the pre-Garton Senate was disorganized at best, corrupt at worst. Sen. Garton was instrumental in giving Indiana an orderly and comparatively open legislative process in the Senate. Despite all that he has done, it’s true that he has controlled the Senate for an awfully long time, and I can see arguments to have him phased out of leadership. But not for the likes of Walker.