MIXED BAG: Hoosiers elect Dems, Republicans for top state offices

Indiana voters’ independent streak was on display Tuesday, as the mostly conservative state chose Republicans Mitt Romney for president and Mike Pence as Governor, but rejected a conservative Senate candidate and education official.Though Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock upset longtime Senator Richard Lugar in the primary, a series of missteps led to a Democratic choice in Joe Donnelly, who won by a four-percent margin.Republican State Senator Jim Banks, of District 17, said two years ago, on election night there was a significant Republican sweep. This year, the races were much closer. “It’s much more competitive,” said Banks. “The U.S. Senate race is a record breaking race, from the perspective of how much money they spent. I think that has a lot to do with it.”Another Democratic upset was for State School Superintendent, as Glenda Ritz ousted Republican Tony Bennett, who many teachers opposed because of his advocacy of major changes to school systems.2008’s Presidential Election may have been a foreshadowing of this year’s results, as Indiana chose President Barack Obama — the state’s first Democratic candidate in 44 years.Though Indiana has changed gears in some races, the state hasn’t gone completely blue.Pence was elected as Governor in a landslide to replace popular GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels, and Indiana returned to its Republican ways in the Presidential race, offering its 11 electoral votes to Romney.According to the Associated Press, Romney’s win in Indiana was founded on support from whites, conservatives, voters older than 40 and people with family incomes of at least $50,000. Obama lost ground with younger people and those with incomes of more than $100,000.Banks attributes Indiana’s independent streak to the distinct differences in the ideology of a conservative and a liberal.“I think that’s what this election embodies more than anything. You either believe that government should be bigger and we should spend more of our tax dollars, or you think like I do, that government should be smaller and take less of our tax dollars,” Banks said. “This is a great day that we celebrate every couple of years and we have the opportunity to make our voices heard. In Indiana, we have a lot to be proud of, the way our government works at the state level.”Whitley County resident Kathy Heuer took her State Representative race in District 83 in a landslide, winning nearly 75% of votes in the state.“I’m extremely grateful to all my supporters,” Heuer said. “I’m looking forward to another two years. I appreciate all my support from both Whitley and Allen Counties.”