By Dave Pearce
While President Barack Obama enjoyed a narrow victory among the popular vote to return for four more years as President of the United States on Tuesday, Posey County’s Democratic Party did not fare nearly so well.
As a matter of fact, the Posey County GOP swept the five contested races as Thomas Washburne defeated Mark Norton for State Representative in District 64 (mostly northern Posey County; Republican incumbent Wendy McNamara retained her seat as State Representative in District 76, Chris Harp (6,062) won the battle of political newcomers over Roy Maynard (5,681) for the position of Posey County Treasurer; Carl Schmitz ((6,498) easily outdistanced incumbent John Sherretz (5,279) for Posey County Commissioner in District One, and in perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, Republican Jerry Walden (6,256) defeated former Posey County Democratic Party Chairman and incumbent Scott Moye (5,476) to represent Posey County’s District Three as Commissioner.
Democratic wins came in a couple of state-level races where Joe Donnelly turned a tight race into a one-sided victory during the final 10 days of the election in the race for United States Senator. Democrat Glenda Ritz upended incumbent Tony Bennett in the race for Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Otherwise, Greg Zoeller easily maintained his position of Indiana Attorney General while Eighth District Congressman Larry Bucshon won a return trip by a wide margin. Posey County Circuit Judge James Redwine will retain his seat and Posey County Councilmen Bob Gentil, Martin Redman, and Ralph Weinzapfel will return for another term.
In the Mount Vernon School Board race, long-time school board member Randy Boyer will be replaced by former Mount Vernon teacher Clarence Nelson while incumbent Beth McFadin-Higgins was, by far, the largest vote-getter in the school board race gaining over 33 percent of the vote, nearly 1,200 more than her nearest competitor. Stefani Miller placed third in the race for two school board members.
While the polls closed at 6 p.m., it took only a little over two hours for Posey County political faithful to find out the election results. As the results were announced, an eruption was heard at the GOP headquarters at the Mount Vernon Elks Club.
Posey County Chairman Greg Newman said that while he wasn’t sure the party would have a clean sweep of all the contested offices, he wasn’t entirely surprised by the news.
“I think that Posey County is pretty conservative, by nature,” Newman said following the election. “I think people here have seen the policies that the president has that are making it more and more difficult for small businesses to operate. I think that was a factor as was just the conservative nature of Posey County.”
But Posey County wasn’t the only county where Republicans made strides on Tuesday.
Indiana elected another Republican Governor as Mike Pence will take over when Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels takes his new position as president of Purdue University. Daniels could not seek a third successive term.
But somewhat of a surprise, particularly in an election where more than 65 percent of registered Posey voters turned out, straight Republican ballots outnumbers straight Democratic ballots by nearly a 10 percent margin (2,344 to 1,920).
“I really think this started about two years ago when the people in Posey County started thinking in a little bit different direction,” Newman explained. “I think that seeing Republicans elected two years ago and go in and affectively operate their offices and serve in the manner that they said they were going to serve, I think that makes a difference. And then to come back with good, strong candidates this time around…I think it is just a combination of those things.”
Newman cited examples of the facts to which he was eluding.
“The election went very smoothly and the results were made available quickly,” Newman said. “I think that was an example. Also, the timeliness of the tax bills going out and that being collected and going out to the governmental units is another example. I also think the job that (Prosecutor) Travis (Clowers) has been doing in the prosecutor’s office is another example. It was just a variety of things.”
But Newman acknowledges the importance of both sides continuing to work for the good of the people. For the first time in many years, Democrat Jim Alsop will be the lone Democratic Commissioner in Posey County but the purse strings of that body are controlled by the Posey County Council, made up of eight Democrats and only one Republican.
“I think there will be some differences there as far as management style and that type of thing but I do think all the officeholders will work together and do what’s best for the people of Posey County,” Newman said.