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Opinion

March 9, 2014

Delph's re-election not foregone conclusion

Mike Delph is a Republican state senator from Carmel, but he is well known to Republicans throughout the state.

The evangelical conservative ran for Secretary of State in 2002, losing at the Republican convention. Three years later, he won a caucus to replace State Sen. Murray Clark, who had been named state chairman. Over the past several years, he traveled to many of the 90 tea party cells across the state as he pondered a potential primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar.

Last month, Delph created a sensation at the Indiana Statehouse. After 23 House Republicans joined with Democrats to remove the controversial second sentence from HJR-3, the constitutional marriage amendment, Delph unsuccessfully attempted to restore it in the Senate. In doing so, he violated Republican caucus rules, and in a memorable press conference under the Statehouse rotunda publicly blasted Senate President David Long, alleging that he had conspired to keep HJR-3 off the 2014 ballot.

The prior weekend, Delph posted a series of attacks against legislative Republican leadership, the news media, and even churches in his district that extends from Carmel, to Zionsville and the west side of Indianapolis. “My biggest criticism is with the evangelical church. GraceCC, E91, College Park, Northview, etc...you all should be ashamed!” Delph said on his Twitter account.

I’ve been covering Indiana politics since 1985, and cannot remember an officeholder castigating churches in his district.

Sen. Delph is now up for re-election, and he faces a gay Democrat, J.D. Ford. Should Delph worry about his re-election?

Conventional wisdom is that Senate District 29 is a staunchly conservative district that the GOP will hold no matter what. Matt Zapfe, executive director of the Senate Majority Campaign Committee, points to 2006 when state Auditor Tim Berry (now state chairman) carried it with 58.8 percent and 59.8 percent in 2010. Delph ran unopposed in 2006 and won by about 7,000 votes in 2010.

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