Ind. House Democrats name Pelath new leader, regroup after losing 9 seats on Election Day

Ousted leader Pat Bauer did not try for position

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana House Democrats chose Scott Pelath of Michigan City as their leader Thursday after Tuesday's debacle at the polls.

The caucus is hoping to rebuild after losing nine seats on Election Day, which has put them on the edge of irrelevancy. 

It means they can no longer block action in the chamber by walking out, since Republicans will still have the two-thirds quorum needed to conduct business.

Pelath, an eight-term representative, admitted things will be tough with only 31 members, but he pledged to start turning things around for the caucus.

 

Pelath will run the caucus with the assistance of floor leader Linda Lawson of Hammond -- who took over as interim leader in July after a revolt ousted longtime leader Pat Bauer -- and caucus chairwoman Vanessa Summers of Indianapolis.

Pelath articulated a different version of leadership than Bauer's confrontational style.

"The election a couple of days ago, it was rough in many ways. But from it is going to spring many new opportunities for the Democratic Party," Pelath said. "We are going to learn to work better. We're going to learn to provide a true alternative vision for how this state should be led."

There had been rumors that Bauer might try a comeback, running on an "I told you so" platform and reminding members how badly his successors did, but he told RTV6 that he wouldn't try to regain his position.

Democrats said they were happy to have Bauer back in the closed-door caucus. He had made himself scarce since the coup in July. But he doesn't not appear totally reconciled to the group that ousted him.

Bauer argued that he could have done a better job of maintaining Democratic strength in the House than the rebels who led his overthrow in July.

 

"I know we'd have had a heck of a lot more support," Bauer said.
 
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