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November 2, 2012

Indiana Republicans seeking “super majority” in the House

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Republicans are hoping to score a rare kind of victory this November: winning enough seats to claim a “super majority” in both the House and Senate while taking the governor’s office as well.

Holding that kind of one-party power hasn’t happened in Indiana since 1964, when Democrats took control of the Statehouse in numbers large enough that they didn’t need a single member from the other party to cast a vote.

They wielded their power in a big way by making Indiana the first state in the nation to repeal a “right to work” law – the one that Republicans had wrestled into place just a few years earlier. But two years later, when voters went back to the polls for the 1966 mid-term election, the Democrats control of 78 seats in the 100-seat state House plunged to just 34. The super-duper super majority was gone.

“No one can hang on to that kind of power for very long,” said political scientist Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Indiana Republicans want to give it a shot.

With Tuesday’s election, they’re counting on hanging on to the super majority they’ve long enjoyed in the state Senate and predicting with confidence (based on polling) they’ll keep the governor’s office as well.

To get total control, they need to up their numbers in the Indiana House. They won majority control in 2010 by taking 60 of the 100 House seats, giving them power to push some major legislation including the new “right to work” law that bans mandatory labor contracts for employees. Their goal is to get 67 seats this time around to get a quorum-proof super majority. With that, they could keep doing business even if House Democrats walked out like they did in 2010 and 2011 – bringing the legislature to a stall.

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