“House Democrats selected a pro-life, pro-gun Democrat as their new leader Monday in a private caucus.”
The leader of the Indiana House Democrats, Scott Pelath, announced that he will not be seeking re-election and stepped down from his leadership position. The House Democratic caucus picked Terry Goodin, from Austin, Indiana. He is the Superintendent of the Crothersville Community School Corporation in Jackson County.
The other main contender was reportedly Phil Giaquinta out of Fort Wayne.
For years, Pat Bauer controlled the House Democrats. After a couple of walk-outs and electoral shellackings, the Democrats ousted Bauer. Rep. Linda Lawson served as an interim leader before the House Democrats picked a more permanent leader in Pelath who served in that position since 2012 (but there hasn’t been much in the way of an uptick in Democratic fortunes during that time.)
I don’t know much about Goodin. (I’ve never been that well versed in the State House power dynamics, and I haven’t been paying as much attention to the legislature in recent years as I once did.) But, he seems to have been a Bauer loyalist. The only blog entries about him that I can find indicate that he proposed legislation in 2007 and 2008 regulating the sale of “sexually explicit products.” That legislation was struck down as unconstitutional by Judge Barker in the Southern District.
On social media, the Hoosiers on the left that I follow seem pretty uniformly disappointed in the choice. (See, e.g., the Indy Democrat Blog). The main theme I see about the reason for the disappointment has to do with his opposition to same sex marriage. From what I can tell, morale hasn’t exactly been high among state Democrats for years. (In the House, I believe they are outnumbered 30 – 70.) This doesn’t seem to be helping. At the moment, it looks like there is an anti-Trump wave building for 2018. From the grumblings on social media, I’d say Goodin probably isn’t the best choice to energize state Democrats to take advantage of that wave. But, I’ll hurry to add that I’m no political strategist, and the grumblings of the voices I hear aren’t necessarily representative of anything.
It’s a judgment call: are political parties most successful when they focus on their most loyal members . . . or when they focus on shifting toward the other major party to try to pick off its supporters? My guess is that the Democratic calculus here is that, with only 30 seats, Hoosiers have spoken, and they like what socially conservative Republicans have to say. If that’s what they’re thinking, I’d call it a mistake. I think voters dislike inauthentic even more than they dislike policies they’re opposed to. Maybe it’s a political analog of the uncanny valley. But, like I said, I’m no strategist.