Democrat Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry won an unprecedented fourth term over Republican Tim Smith.
Democrat Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry won an unprecedented fourth term over Republican Tim Smith.

By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Democrats held on to the two largest city halls in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne where Mayor Tom Henry won an unprecedented fourth term with a landslide victory over Tim Smith, and picked up Elkhart with Rod Roberson’s defeat of former mayor Dave Miller. Joe Hogsett won a second term in the capital city, easily dispatching State Sen. Jim Merritt.

Democrats also made suburban gains with Emily Styron upsetting Zionsville Mayor Tim Haak, as well as picking up council seats in the Republican strongholds Carmel and Fishers. Democrats also took control of the Columbus City Council in Vice President Mike Pence's hometown.

But Republicans prevailed in the old auto belt, flipping mayoral races in Muncie, Kokomo and Logansport. Republican Tyler Moore defeated Democrat Abbie Smith in the open Kokomo seat, Chris Martin upset first-term Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell, and Muncie Councilman Dan Ridenour defeated Democrat Terry Whitt Bailey. The Indiana Republican Party achieved a new record in this year’s municipal elections, ending the 2019 cycle with 70 Republican mayors throughout Indiana. This involved flipping 19 mayoral offices, including those in traditional Democrat strongholds Kokomo, Muncie, Logansport and Michigan City. Republicans now hold 23 more mayoral offices than Democrats, another record.

“It was a historic night for Republicans throughout Indiana as voters in city after city elected Republicans mayors,” said Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer. “Never in the history of Indiana have Republicans held this many mayoral offices or had this wide a margin over Democrats.” Not content to compete in just one region, the Indiana Republican Party invested time, talent and significant resources in races throughout the state. This coordination and teamwork led to an unprecedented flip of 19 mayoral offices in cities across the state. The trend carried throughout the state. Terre Haute, Lawrence, Jeffersonville, Logansport, Winchester, Bluffton, Hartford City and Greensburg all elected Republican mayors, just to name a few. 

For pure drama, Republican Duane Parry upset indicted Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer by 76 votes. Meer was indicted late last week after the drug arrest of his step-son roiled the Michigan City Police Department.

In Terre Haute, Republican Mayor Duke Bennett fended off a spirited challenge from independent Pat Goodwin, winning by less than 250 votes and voters in Vigo County easily passed a referendum allowing a Gary casino to move there. In Richmond, Mayor Dave Snow cruised to a second term, while Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick also won a second term.

In southern Indiana, New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan defeated Republican Mark Seabrook and independent Dan Coffey with 55% of the vote. In Jeffersonville, Republican Mayor Mike Moore easily dispatched former mayor Tom Galligan with 70%. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke coasted to a third term, while Bloomington Democrat John Hamilton won a second term.

There was a change of the guard in South Bend, where James Mueller took an endorsement from childhood friend Mayor Pete Buttigieg to easily win there. Mueller joins Gary's Jerome Prince, who upset Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson in the May primary.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., was reelected to a record fifth term and will soon decide whether to challenge U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky in 2020. 

In Shelbyville, Democrat Mayor Thomas DeBaun defeated Republican Brad Ridgeway. Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell was reelected with 83% of the vote over a 22-year-old Democrat. Democrat Tom Dolezal elected Tipton Mayor with 60% of vote. Republican Kenny Costin was elected Martinsville Mayor with 91% of vote.