By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS  – While two House races remain incomplete due to a lack of totals from Porter County, it appears Indiana Democrats gained only one seat in the Indiana Senate and just three in the Indiana House. The GOP super majories are intact as of this writing. Absentee ballots put Rep. Joe Taylor over the top after it appeared he lost on Election Night,

Republican State Rep. Julie Olthoff trails Democrat Lisa Beck by by 504 votes in HD19 with 61 of 65 precincts reporting. There have been no totals reported from HD4, where State Rep. Ed Soliday was challenged by Democrat Frank Szczepanski. Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody said Thursday morning he was confident Beck would win after Porter County results come in. He called it "unacceptable" that no results were in for HD4 two days after the election, calling the Porter election a "miscarriage of election administration."

Democrats picked up two other seats with Chris Chyung defeating State Rep. Hal Slager by 86 votes in HD15, while Chris Campbell defeated Republican State Rep. Sally Siegrist 57-43%. In two off the radar races, Rep. Joe Taylor defeated Republican Troy Dillon, 11,265 to 10,550. And in HD35, State Rep. Melanie Wright staved off Republican Ben Fisher by just 339 votes. Both were heavy union districts and reveal that many union members are still in the camp of President Trump and Republicans.

Democrats held on to the open HD71, where Dr. Rita Fleming defeated Matt Owen. Fleming garnered 13,214 votes (or 55.6%) over Republican Owen’s 10,010 (42.4%). “I am surprised,” Fleming told the News & Tribune Tuesday night. “But I will tell you I worked really hard and I truly wanted to not just work hard administratively, but I wanted to talk to people. I wanted to talk face to face, I wanted to shake their hand, and I think that makes a difference.” 

In the Senate, Democrat J.D. Ford won a rematch against State Sen. Mike Delph by 4,733 votes as of this morning. “I just want to pause for a second to appreciate the historical significance that has happened tonight,” Ford said at the Hyatt in Downtown Indianapolis in what was one of the only bright spots for Indiana Democrats. “Tonight, I become Indiana’s first openly gay lawmaker. Ladies and gentlemen, we just made history and no one can take that from us. Every marginalized group — people of color, women, Muslims, Jewish Hoosiers, seniors, LGBTQ+ Hoosiers, just to name a few — you now have a voice in the Indiana General Assembly. And I only intend to amplify it.”

Senate Republicans easily cruised to victory in SD38 where Sen. Jon Ford turned back Democrat Chris Gambill 56-44%. “It’s exciting to know that my constituents want to give me a second term to continue the work that I’ve been doing and I look forward to getting busy,” Ford told the Tribune-Star. “We put together a solid plan [for the campaign],” he said. “We stuck to that plan and executed it. I think people wanted me to continue to do the work I’ve been doing for the Wabash Valley and it came through.” 

In the open SD45, Republican Chris Garten defeated Jeffersonville Councilman John Perkins, 62-34%. “We had a great strategy in place early on and I think we executed it with perfection,” Garten told the News & Tribune. “The thing that’s most humbling about this entire experience is that I believe our campaign inspired voters to come out and support us. That’s critical in any election, for any office. As a veteran, that’s important to me.”

Sen. Ron Grooms was defeating Democrat Anna Murray 54-45%. In the open SD26, Madison County Councilman Mike Gaskill was defeating Anderson Fire Chief Dave Cravens, 57-39% with 90% reporting. In another open seat, Republican Linda Rogers downed Democrat Ed Liptrap 64-36%.

Sen. Jim Merritt defeated Democrat Derek Camp 52-47% (though absentees are still being counted), setting up a probable challenge to Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, who has not announced whether he will seek a second term.

Leadership survived challenges in both chambers. Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane defeated Republican Zaki Ali 52-44%, while House Speaker Brian Bosma turned back Democrat Poonam Gill, 56-43%. “It was a hard-fought campaign,” Lanane said. “Zaki put in a great effort. It was definitely a tough race. We had local candidates that I thought could win. The Republican Party got their base out.”

In other House races, Rep. Dale Devon was turning back a challenge from Dr. Donald Westerhausen, 51-49%. State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer was leading John Barnes 52-47% with absentees still coming in. Democrat Tonya Pfaff won an open seat in HD43, defeating Republican Darrell Felling. Republican Ryan Lauer won the open HD59, defeating Dale Nowlin 57-41%.

House Dems switch Goodin with GiaQuinta

House Democrats replaced Rep. Terry Goodin as minority leader with Rep. Phil GiaQuinta. It came after the caucus picked up just three seats on Tuesday. If Democrats pick up HD4 held by State Rep. Ed Soliday, they could break the GOP super majority. GiaQuinta had challenged Goodin for the post after Scott Pelath stepped down last winter.

Bosma elected to 6th speaker term

Indiana House Republicans reelected Speaker Brian C. Bosma to his historic sixth term at the helm. “This session, House Republicans are focused on fueling Indiana’s economic momentum and delivering another structurally balanced state budget while funding our state’s critical priorities,” Bosma said. “I look forward to working alongside strong leaders in the House and Senate, and Governor Holcomb as we keep our state moving in the right direction.” State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon) was elected Majority Caucus chair, his first term in the position, and State Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne) was reelected to serve as majority floor leader.