By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS – With the new abortion restrictions in place following the Senate passage of SB1 and Gov. Eric Holcomb’s signing, the key political question is whether this controversial legislation will change the political dynamic.

A Howey Politics Indiana analysis of Indiana Senate races reveals that out of the 17 contested races in November, potential pickups remain elusive for Democrats. HPI rates only SD31 (Sen. Kyle Walker v. Fishers Councilwoman Jocelyn Vare) as a tossup. We rate five races – SD 1, SD11, SD26, SD45 and SD47 – in our “Leans” category, with four of these currently held by Republicans.

Eight Republicans – State Sens. Rick Niemeyer in SD6, Liz Brown in SD15, Travis Holdman in SD19, Ronnie J. Alting in SD22, Jon Ford in SD38, Eric Bassler in SD39, Chip Perfect in SD43, and Jim Tomes in SD49 – are unopposed. HPI will analyze Indiana House races in next week’s edition.

If Democrats were to sweep the six tossup and leaning seats, that would end the Republican super majority, but Republicans would still maintain a 33-17 majority. And the likelihood of such a sweep in this environment appears at first glance to be small, but that depends on whether there is a surge of pro-choice suburban female voters, and whether that trumps President Biden’s low approval, high inflation, gas prices, mid-term history, and the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

The most likely scenario at this writing is a one to three seat gain for Democrats, but that could be jeopardized by a GOP wave developing.

There has been anecdotal evidence of a surge of female voter registration, particularly after Kansas voters rejected a referendum in that deep red state by a 59-41% margin. More than 900,000 Kansans showed up to the polls to vote on the state’s abortion referendum, according to Vox, coming in a state where 44% of registered voters are Republican, 26% are Democrats and 30% are unaffiliated. That’s the biggest turnout for a primary election in the state’s history, according to the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office. This referendum drove an increase in new voter registration across the Kansas City metro area, according to KMBC. In Wyandotte County, there has been an increase of about 1,000 new voters since that Supreme Court decision that made each state responsible for its own abortion laws.

According to a New York Times Upshot analysis on how the rest of American might have voted on the Kansas referendum, Indiana came in at 58% voting to retain abortion rights. That corresponds with recent public polling that showed substantial support for abortion rights. In the 2020 election, 62.6% of Indiana voters were female, out-voting men 1,594,000 to 1,408,000.

Nine Republican senators and nine Democratic senators voted against SB1. The GOP lawmakers were: Sen. Alting, Lafayette; Sen. Vaneta Becker, Evansville; Sen. Mike Bohack, Michiana Shores; Sen. Jim Buck, Kokomo; Sen. Jon Ford, Terre Haute; Sen. Chip Perfect, Lawrenceburg; Sen Jim Tomes, Wadesville; Sen. Kyle Walker, Lawrence; Sen. Mike Young, Indianapolis. Three senators were not present for the vote: Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville; Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper; and Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago.

Here is our HPI Horse Race analysis of the contested Indiana Senate races:

SD1: Lake County Republican Chairman/Councilman Daniel E. Dernulc [R], State Sen. Michael W. Griffin [D]: 2018 Results: Sen. Frank Mrvan (D) 29,578 (100%). Forecast: Griffin was elected in a precinct caucus to replace Sen. Frank Mrvan, Sr. Dernulc could be boosted by a robust Republican challenge to U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan Jr. by Jennifer-Ruth Green. Dernulc has been chairman of the Lake County Republican Party and has served on the Lake County Council. Griffin spoke passionately against SB1 on the Senate floor, saying, “This bill is irredeemable and unpopular. If the majority were true democratic representatives of the people of Indiana, this bill would have been dead on arrival: No one who came to testify liked this bill. Even National Right to Life, the special interest group whose advice they sought in writing the bill, hates it. No Hoosier wants this law governing themselves, their daughters or any woman they love, but our 76% male legislature is happy to pass it, wash their hands of it and let Hoosier women and healthcare workers deal with the fallout.” Dernulc did not make any public comments on SB1. Horse Race Status: Leans Griffin.

SD4: Jeff Larson [R] v. State Sen. Rodney Pol, Jr. [D]. 2018 Results: Sen. Karen Tallian (D) 26,762 (60.4%), Cole Stultz (R) 17,557 (39.6). Forecast: Pol was selected in a precinct caucus to replace Sen. Karen Talian. Republican Jeff Larson is a former member of the Porter County Council. He is a small business owner and retired educator of building trades. SD4 would fit the description of a suburban district, running from Michigan City west along the lakeshore to Portage and Chesterton and including some Valparaiso suburbs. Larson’s campaign Facebook page does not mention SB1 or abortion. Horse Race Status: Likely Pol.

SD11: State Sen. Linda Rogers [R] v. Melinda (Mindy) Fountain [D]. 2018 Results: Rogers (R) 27,089 (61.2%), Liptrap (D) 17,179 (38.8%). Forecast: Rogers defeated longtime Sen. Joe Zakas in the 2018 GOP primary. She is seeking her first reelection. Fountain works for the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame. She spent a decade in the U.S. Foreign Service. She is an elected member of the Clay Township (St. Joseph County) Board, a Democratic Precinct chairperson. She’s president of her children’s school’s parent-teacher organization. She lives in Granger. Fountain posted on Facebook from Statehouse SB1 protests last week. “Everyone is here and are speaking up for what they believe in,” Fountain said. “Folks are expressing their views on keeping the government out of their personal lives.” Sen. Rogers voted for SB1, but did not release any public statements. This is the kind of suburban district that includes Notre Dame and Granger and has significant numbers of educated female voters who could come into play if there is a surge of registrations. Horse Race Status: Leans Rogers.

SD14: Tyler Johnson [R] v. Zach Heimach [D]. 2018 results: Sen. Dennis Kruse (R) 34,542 (100%). Forecast: This a very conservative religious GOP district currently held by Sen. Dennis Kruse, who is retiring. Heimach is young man with a BA from Miami University of Ohio (2010) and a masters in divinity (2018) from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Johnson is an emergency room physician who toppled GOP favorite Ron Turpin in the party primary despite an endorsement from former vice president Mike Pence. Horse Race Status: Safe Johnson.

SD17: State Sen. Andy Zay [R] v. Joe Swisher [D]. 2018 Results: Zay 13,215 (100%). Forecast: Swisher is a veteran and a retired Indiana state trooper. He is an unabashed union supporter. Sen. Zay voted for SB1. Horse Race Status: Safe Zay.

SD21: State Sen. James R. Buck [R] v. Josh Lowry [D]. 2018 Results: Buck 29,797 (65.4), Christina Fivecoate (D) 15,733 (34.6%). Forecast: Lowry resides in Westfield. Before graduating from law school, he was a professional wrestler. He has served as a deputy attorney general. His wife, Alexis, and her family have lived in Westfield for generations. The Lowrys have been very active foster parents and have four adopted children. Horse Race Status: Safe Buck

SD23: Spencer R. Deery, [R] v. West Lafayette Councilman David A. Sanders [D]. 2018 Results: State Sen. Phil Boots 36,226 (100%). Forecast: This race is a contest between two Purdue University representatives. Deery is deputy chief of staff for Purdue President Mitch Daniels; Sanders is an associate professor of biological sciences. Sanders has been an outspoken faculty member and active in local politics. He was defeated by Republican Todd Rokita in the 2010 congressional race and has served as councilor-at-large in West Lafayette since 2015. He made news earlier this summer when he said he was barred from attending a Covington street fair. On SB1, Deery told Based in Lafayette’s Dave Bangert, “I believe our government, private and charitable sectors have a moral duty to defend the innocent, provide support for women and babies in difficult situations, and to address the root causes of abortion. If I were a state senator, I would be working to set Indiana on that path while recognizing that this is an emotional, divisive and complicated issue that requires tact and compassion. I do not believe SB1 is yet where it needs to be, but it changes daily so I will reserve judgment until I see where the bill lands, and I have a chance to consult voters and policy experts on the expected implications and possible unintended consequences of the final bill.” Councilman Sanders explained, “I have a well-established record for defending personal privacy against government intrusion.  I am also a well-known advocate for full access to health care and women’s rights. I would have opposed SB1. I hope it is not inappropriate to remind you of this quotation from the Tippecanoe GOP debate: ‘I oppose abortion in every way” – Spencer Deery, March 28, Duncan Hall, Lafayette.” The new SD23 does not fit the classic “suburban” district, though it includes part of West Lafayette before going west into more conservative areas of Indiana like Attica and Covington. Horse Race Status: Likely Deery.

SD25: State Sen. Mike Gaskill [R] v. Tamie Dixon-Tatum [D]. SD25 results 2018 Results: State Sen. Tim Lanane 19,577 (51.9%), Zaki Ali (R) 16,640 44.1%, Robert Jozwiak (L) 1,517. 2018 SD26 results: Gaskill (R) 27,647 (57.8), Dave Cravens (D) 18,556 (38.8), Greg Noland (L), 1,625 (3.4%). Sen. Lanane was drawn into the new SD25 with Sen. Gaskill. During attempts to make changes to the Republican-drawn Indiana election district maps in the GOP-controlled legislature, Lanane said the proposed Senate maps were lopsided in voting patterns, making it a “suicide mission” for a Democrat to run against a Republican (Indiana Lawyer). This is Dixon-Tatum’s second run for SD 25. She comes from a local political family. Her father is a member of the Anderson City Council and her son is running for Anderson Township trustee. Horse Race Status: Likely Gaskill.

SD26: Scott Alexander [R] v. Melanie M. Wright [D]. 2018 results: Gaskill (R) 27,647 (57.8), Dave Cravens (D) 18,556 (38.8), Greg Noland (L), 1,625 (3.4%). Forecast: This is an open seat after redistricting. Alexander owns an appraisal company and has served on the Delaware County Council for over a decade. Wright, a former teacher, served in the Indiana House from 2014 until her defeat by Republican Elizabeth Rowray in 2020. She had announced for the 5th CD, but said last November, “I found myself telling political affiliates that I couldn’t wait to knock doors again, build relationships with people and be a problem solver. A federal race is not necessarily built on these tenets; there has to be room in the middle for a common sense school teacher to be able to represent rural Indiana!” Horse Race Status: Leans Alexander.

SD27: State Sen. Jeffrey S. Raatz [R] v. Ronald Itnyre [D]. 2018 Results: Raatz 27,795 (70.9%), Jake Hoog (D) 11,429 (29.1). Forecast: Itnyre has a background in agriculture, holding various positions in farming related activities. He cites his three issues as “Education, the Environment, and the Economy.” He has unsuccessfully sought a position on the local school board. Raatz chairs the Senate Education Committee and voted for SB1. Horse Race Status: Safe Raatz.

SD29: Alex Choi [R] v. State Sen. J.D. Ford (D). 2018 Results: Ford 31,974 (56.7%), Sen. Mike Delph 24,403 (43.3%). Forecast: Ford’s victory over Sen. Delph was illustrative of the political shift going on in suburban districts. When Delph began his Senate career, SD29 was ruby red, but by 2018 it was ripe for a gay senator. Ford was one of the Senate Democrats who pushed back on SB1, saying, “I am deeply disappointed that the Republicans have taken Indiana back to the 1960s by depriving women of the right to make science-based decisions with their physicians and faith leaders if they so choose. This extreme legislation will harm expecting mothers and their babies, criminalize healthcare providers, and enforce a narrow religious view on all Hoosiers regardless of their faith or non-faith affiliation. I will continue to champion individual liberties, freedom, religious freedom, and oppose extreme anti-family legislation.” Choi is a practicing anesthesiologist seeking political office for the first time. He has not posted a statement on SB1 on his campaign Facebook page. Horse Race Status: Safe Ford.

SD31: State Sen. Kyle Walker [R] v. Fishers Councilwoman Jocelyn Vare. 2018 Results: Sen. Jim Merritt (R) 30,221 (51.4%), Derek Camp (D) 28,612 (48.6%). Walker, the former Marion County Republican chairman, won a caucus to replace the retiring Sen. Merritt. He became the voice of moderate Republicans during the abortion debate, urging a “more balanced” approach. Walker explained his vote against SB1: “Tonight, I voted no on Senate Bill 1(ss) because it does not strike the right balance for women to make their own health decisions while also protecting the life of the unborn. Further, the time allowed for the exceptions for rape or incest victims and for fatal fetal anomalies is far less than I believe is appropriate.” Walker’s moderate way is indicative of this suburban district turning purple. In 2014, Sen. Merritt ran unopposed in the general election after winning a primary challenge with 67%. Vare has lived in Fishers over 20 years and was elected to the Fishers City Council in 2019, the first Democrat to be elected in this community. She is also a small business owner of Propeller Marketing, LLC, an advertising agency that promotes tourism and economic development in Indiana communities. She was at the Statehouse during the special session, saying, “Thousands rallied at the Statehouse today to voice their support for reproductive freedom. I was honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with many incredible women as we boldly advocated against Senate Bill 1. We won’t be silent. We won’t back down. We’ll continue to fight. It’s time for the super majority to serve all Hoosiers. For me I am still reeling from this move. Women’s reproductive rights are both personal and political. When you are ready, my friends, take a deep breath and let’s go to work. Hoosier women will raise our voices together. This is your moment to take action.” This is a chance for a Democratic pickup, if the signing of SB1 prompts suburban women to vote in November. Horse Race Status: Tossup.

SD41: State Sen. Greg Walker [R] v. Bryan Muñoz [D]. 2018 Results: Walker 28,888 (66.6%), Ross Thomas (D) 14,458 (33.4%). Forecast: Sen. Walker voted for SB1, telling the Columbus Republic, “I wanted more than what the bill had. From a practical standpoint you have to have population growth.” Muñoz, who is director of bands at Columbus North HS, explained, “SB1 is one of the most oppressive things Indiana has done to women and to healthcare. Greg Walker…is more interested in legislating his personal beliefs than representing his district. We are not the same people – in fact the contrast could not be more stark.” Muñoz also noted that Walker opposed SB2, which provided funding for existing state programs. Walker represents a very conservative district that, despite Cummins opposition to SB1, does not fit the class suburban district profile. Muñoz has been teaching for 13 years and was named Teacher of the Year among other awards. Horse Race Status: Likely Greg Walker.

SD45: State Sen. Chris Garten [R] v. Nick Marshall (D). 2018 Results: Garten 30,357 (62.7), John Perkins (D) 16,493 (34.1%), Charles Johnson (L) 1,554 (3.2%). This district fits the suburban characterization that includes Jeffersonville and Clarksville just across the river from Louisville. Sen. Garten voted for SB1 twice, but did not release a statement. Marshall told the News & Tribune that he believes it should be a woman’s choice whether to have an abortion, and instead of the legislation being decided through the ongoing special session, he believes “we should let the people decide in November.” Marshall describes himself as “pro-family,” and he would like to see support for children and families as a priority, including more support for foster children and families, livable wages, universal preschool and family medical leave. He said he feels people should have a choice, but “abortion should be the last choice.” Marshall is a young African American with a remarkable story. He lived in a foster home on a farm in a small town in Kentucky. He eventually moved to Louisville in foster homes in Louisville where he graduated from the University of Louisville. He and his wife, Melonie, reside in Jeffersonville. They have two children. He works for Republic Bank and is involved in numerous community and civic organizations. Horse Race Status: Leans Garten.

SD46: Evan Russell Shearin [R] v. Andrea Hunley [D]. 2018 Results: This district has shifted from the Ohio River to Indianapolis in the 2021 maps. 2022 primary results: Hunley 2,050 (43.6%, Councilwoman Kristin Jones (25.7%), Ashley Eason 16.2%, Karla Lopez Owens 13.6%, Bob Kern 1%). It is expected to become a Democratic stronghold. Hunley grew up in Fort Wayne, moving to Indianapolis following her graduation from IU. She has been an English teacher and for the past 10 years has been principal of an award-winning K-8 IPS school. She was ardently opposed to SB1 and demonstrated at the Indiana Statehouse, saying, “We are supposed to pass laws that help, not harm. We are supposed to pass laws in the name of freedom not control. I am fired up and will continue to fight until the personal freedoms of all Hoosiers are protected. The majority of people in Indiana believe in protecting healthcare rights, just like the people of Kansas.” Shearin, who was uncontested in the GOP primary with 1,089 votes, is a former Navy Intelligence specialist. Following discharge from military service he worked in public service, first for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and later in housing and community development. He has his own consulting practice advising public sector and non-profit clients on process and technology improvement and efficiency. Horse Race Status: Safe Hunley.

SD47: State Sen. Gary Byrne [R] v. Kathleen Forte [D]. 2018 Primary results: Sen. Erin Houchin (R) 10,935 (100%). 2022 primary results: Sen. Byrne 7,120 (54%, Sen. Kevin Boehnlein 6,058 (46%). Small businessman Byrne was elected by local precinct officials to fill out the term of retiring Sen. Houchin, who won the 9th CD Republican nomination. Byrne overcame a late deficit to defeat State Sen. Kevin Boehnlein in the May GOP primary after the two were drawn into the same district. Byrne was chosen by caucus to replace Houchin in SD47 while Boehnlein was appointed by caucus to replace Sen. Ron Grooms in the old SD46. Byrne voted for SB1 twice, including when it first passed out of the Senate, saying from the podium he did so to “spite” pro-choice protesters in the hallway. He explained his final SB1 vote, saying, “Throughout the special session, I stood firm in believing Senate Enrolled Act 1 (ss) never went far enough when it came to protecting the unborn by prohibiting access to abortion. While I still believe this, I understand that any step to limit abortion access works to protect unborn Hoosiers, as this bill will end an estimated 95% of abortions performed in Indiana and abolishes abortion clinics in our state by ensuring procedures are performed solely in hospitals. This is why I supported the bill. I hope to see future legislation that further restricts access to abortion, and I will continue to believe in and diligently work to protect the sanctity of life.” Forte is a realtor and former public-school teacher. She notes, “Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked as a line cook, waitress, bartender, mental health worker, church musician, public school teacher, and realtor to support my family. I’ve also been a single parent, a parent of a child with learning disabilities, and the board president of a local nonprofit.” Forte, Democratic candidate for District 47 in the Indiana Senate, also joined the Monday protest in Indianapolis to advocate for abortion rights. In a news release, she said the state has a “big government problem with the super majority at the Statehouse.” Forte added, “I believe we all do better when we empower people to make the best choices for themselves and their families. SB 1 is so severe that even a person who has a miscarriage can wind up having their care restricted based on the extremist politicians wanting to score political points. Make no mistake, this bill takes power away from people with uteruses and gives that power to the Indiana Republican super majority. That’s not an Indiana that most people I know want to live in.” The new SD47 extends from the Louisville suburbs that includes parts of Clarksville, then going west in Harrison County and Corydon, and north through Salem. So this is a partial suburban/rural district and, given the results from the Kansas abortion referendum, bears watching between now and November. Horse Race Status: Leans Byrne.

SD48: State Sen. Mark Messmer [R] v. Jeff Hill [D]. 2018 Results: Messmer 38,824 (100%). Sen. Messmer was one of nine Republicans to vote against SB1. In joining committee Democrats in opposing SB1, Messmer in explaining his vote against SB1 said the abortion issue demonstrates “the near impossibility of threading the perfect needle in a short, compressed special session.” He skipped the final vote last Friday. The 48th runs from east of Evansville and Newburgh, up through Jasper and then westward to Princeton. Hill lives in Princeton. He is a former Gibson County deputy sheriff where he served for about 35 years. Hill is currently an officer with the Oakland City Police Dept. He is a member of the Teamsters Union, Local 215. “I am running because we need someone in the Statehouse that will truly represent all the people in District 48,” he said. “From English to Jasper, Tell City, Rockport, Petersburg, and Princeton, I will be their voice in the Statehouse.” Horse Race Status: Likely Messmer.