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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - A look at the use of caususes to fill legislative vacanies between general elections

Niki Kelly of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette takes a long look today at the use of caucuses to fill legislative vacancies between general elections. The story is headed "Rise in caucuses raises questions about process of filling legislative vacancies: Critics think it lets the savvy do an end run around voters." Some quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS – Most Indiana legislators had to take their cases to thousands of voters before swearing their first oath of office. * * *

But another group – 28 lawmakers, almost 19 percent of the state’s 150 sitting legislators – arrived at the General Assembly through a much different process: a political caucus. * * *

And even though the House and Senate members caucused into the ranks face the voters for re-election, it is rare to lose as an incumbent. * * *

[Some] see the caucus as a type of political rigging for savvy folks who might have insider knowledge of upcoming vacancies. * * *

Whenever a vacancy occurs in a state legislative office, the precinct committee people from that district and from the party of the departing lawmaker meet to tap a replacement.

These precinct folks run for election to the post. Or the county chairman appoints residents to fill a precinct committee slot if it becomes vacant.

Northeast Indiana has had a spate of caucuses in recent years – at least eight, more than other areas of the state.

Overall, the Senate has a larger number of members who came to the legislature by way of caucus – 18 compared with 10 in the House.

Of the 28 current state lawmakers who came in through a caucus, eight filled vacancies caused by death. The vast majority, 20, filled vacancies opened by resignations from office before a term was over.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 27, 2013 10:30 AM
Posted to Indiana Government