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Republicans, Democrats both have reasons to smile

Election Round-up

November 12, 2008
Dems sweep Crawford Council

There was a bit of drama in who would get the third Crawford County Council at-large seat, as three-term incumbent Republican Daniel Crecelius and Democrat challenger Doug McLain battled back and forth for much of the night, with McLain winning by just 77 votes.

McLain, who garnered 2,138 votes to 2,061 for Crecelius, joined fellow Democrats Jerry Brewer, a three-term incumbent and the top vote-getter with 2,579, and first-time candidate William Breeding, who collected 2,499 votes, to be elected to the council. Billy Joe Walker, who ran as an independent, finished last in the five-person race with 1,779 votes.

McLain admitted he was somewhat surprised, especially since he was running against two incumbents.

"I think the ads really helped," Breeding said, "especially the ones with us all together."

Brewer, who also served two terms as a county commissioner before his 12 years as a councilman, said his father, Elmo, who served almost two decades on the council, for him being able to serve the county.

"If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here," he said, adding, "What got me in politics was people in the other party telling me how good he was."

Crecelius said it was a tough year for Republicans, but he is proud to have served 12 straight years.

"I really don't feel bad because it's easy to win as a Democrat in Crawford County, and I served three terms," he said.

Gilmore chosen for another four years

In the Crawford County District 2 commissioner race, two-term incumbent Democrat Randy Gilmore held off a challenge by Republican Wayne Carothers.

The race was tight as the first several precincts reported totals. Sterling Township 1 was close with 77 votes for Gilmore and 71 for Carothers. Jennings 2 had the candidates even closer, with Carothers winning 117 votes and Gilmore 116. Union 2 was another Carothers' precinct netting 78 votes for him and 57 votes for Gilmore.

But as the evening wore on, some key Gilmore townships reported in and the tide began to shift back his way. Johnson Township gave him 136 votes and Carothers got 65, setting a trend that Gilmore rode to victory, winning 2,444 votes to 2,166 for Carothers.

"It's been kind of an amazing evening," Gilmore said, "but it feels good. I had a lot of good people helping me out and I need to thank them for all they've done. And I'm looking forward to serving another four years."


Mathes narrowly defeats Rhoads

The closest race was the District 2 commissioner battle between fellow council members Democrat Carl (Buck) Mathes and Republican Rhonda Rhoads. After the final tally was in, Mathes defeated Rhoads by a razor-thin, 16-vote margin, 8,833 to 8,817.

Rhoads, who narrowly came out on top of a recount in the primary against Kenny Saulman, immediately indicated she will ask for a recount.

"I owe it to the people that voted for me," she said. "I'm very familiar with the recount. I knew it would be a close race. I don't mind close races."

She also said she has already contacted the State Board of Accounts, the election board of the Secretary of State and the Attorney General's office about the legality of a letter sent out Oct. 24 in a Lanesville Community School Corp. newsletter.

In the letter, Donald J. Hussung, president of the Lanesville school board, reminded Franklin Township voters that Rhoads voted against forgiving the loan on their elementary school's gymnasium, while Mathes had voted for forgiving the loan.

She also said with one machine breaking down in a precinct, and military and possible provisional ballots still up the air, she has no choice but to call for a recount.

"It's not over yet," Rhoads said.

Mathes said he would call for a recount if he was in Rhoads' shoes.

"I'm very surprised how close the race was," said Mathes. "Rhonda ran a very clean race; we didn't dig up any dirt on one another."

The winner of the race will join District 1 Commissioner James Goldman and Commissioner Terry Miller from District 3 on the board.

Goldman gets third term

The county District 1 commissioner race was comfortably won by incumbent James Goldman, the Democrat. He collected 10,137 to Republican Phil Smith's 7,202.

"It's been a race I have worked hard at," said Goldman. "I've been upfront about issues including the (new) hospital, animal control and the EMS building. I took a positive stance on issues in the community."

Goldman has held the commissioner position for the past eight years. Prior to that, he served 12 years on the North Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees.

Timberlake, Gerdon, Heitkem-per win council

With Mathes and Rhoads giving up their seats on the county council to run for commissioner, two newcomers will join the seven-member council. The three at-large positions for Harrison County Council were won by incumbent Democrat Chris Timberlake (9,666 votes), Democrat Richard Gerdon (9,474 votes) and former county commissioner Republican Jim Heitkemper (8,627 votes).

Gerdon, who was successful in his first attempt running for political office, said he was appreciative of all the help he has received.

"I'm excited and very pleased the people have confidence in me," said Gerdon. "This is new to me. I'm excited to get started."

Heitkemper also said he is excited to work with the council members.

"They're certainly wonderful people," he said.

Heitkemper went on to say that there is a lot at stake in the county.

"It will take hard work and prayer from a lot of people in Harrison County," he said.

Heitkemper served one term as the county's District 3 commissioner after defeating Terry Miller in the 2002 General Election. Miller regained his seat when he beat Heitkemper in 2006.

Timberlake, also the top vote-getter in the Democrat primary in the spring, will begin his second four-year term on the council.

"I'm honored by the results, grateful for the support and will try to keep doing the best job I can for Harrison County," he said. "I'm looking forward to working with Richard and Jim as we move into the new year, and I congratulate (Democrat) Steve (Haggard) and (Republican) Marion (Wallace), who were tireless campaigners throughout this process. They have all been terrific."

Haggard, a former county councilman and commissioner, collected 8,321 votes, 306 shy of Heitkemper for the third spot, and Wallace, the county's Veterans Service Officer who was running for public office for the first time and finished with 8,083 votes.

Rounding out the council are Democrats Gordon Pendleton, Leslie Robertson, William T. (Bill) Nichols and Republican Ralph Sherman.

Davis retains judge position

Incumbent Roger D. Davis said he plans to continue to do his best to protect the public and have a fair judicial process for everyone during his next term.

Davis, a Democrat, defeated first-time candidate Republican John T. Evans, 9,290 votes to 8,450.

"I'm honored to be re-elected, and I'm honored to be the judge for Harrison County," Davis said. "I want to continue to emphasize rehabilitation for those that are deserving and willing. Most people that go through the criminal court system will get out of prison at some point, and we don't want them to be a drain on taxpayers once they get out of prison. We want them to contribute positively to society. It saves taxpayers money, and it makes for a safer community."

Best bests Gaither for recorder

Republican Barbara Birkla Best won the seat of Harrison County recorder against opponent Carole Gaither, a Democrat.

Best had 8,788 votes compared to Gaither's 8,660, leaving Best the winner by a slim 128-vote difference.

"I'm very satisfied with the support of the community," Best said. "I kept a positive attitude and people listened to what I had to say."

Overall, Best said she felt a lot of relief at the race being over, and she looked forward to getting into the office and beginning working for Harrison County.

"I really appreciate everybody's support," she said, "from the bottom of my heart."

The current officeholder, Democrat Barbara J. Mathes, could not seek re-election due to term limits.

Brown gets second term as clerk

Incumbent Republican Sherry Brown defeated Democrat Barbara Mathes for county clerk of the circuit court.

Brown said she was told that her opponent had never lost a countywide election. Brown won by more than 1,800 votes.

"I love a challenge," Brown said. "I think it makes you work harder when you have good competition."

Brown won 30 of 36 precincts en route to her victory.

As clerk, Brown said she was somewhat aware of how her race was going as she heard the results being read off in the Commissioners' Room at the courthouse.

"I knew by some of the totals that were coming in that I was ahead, but I know it's never over until the last vote comes in and is counted," she said. "I just feel so honored to be re-elected."

Sizemore prevails in cororner's race

Just like in many other races in Harrison County, the race between county coroner candidates Republican Ray Saylor and Democrat Rusty Sizemore was hard-fought, but Sizemore prevailed, with 376 more votes.

As the final tallies of the evening started to pour in, Sizemore was reluctant to count his chickens before they hatched. He waited for congratulations until results were made official and then, it was a big sigh of relief.

"It feels good," he said. "I'm glad it's over."

Sizemore, who received 8,915 votes to his opponent's 8,539 votes, said he is so thankful to the people of Harrison County who have given him their support.

"I hope I can — I know I can — do the job expected of me," he said.

Sizemore has already chosen his deputy coroners, Ray and Angela Kling, both of whom have already passed the state coroner's exam.

Bube re-elected as surveyor

The county surveyor was won by the incumbent, Tom Bube, a Republican.

Bube, who is completing his second term in office, received 9,637 votes (56 percent). His opponent, Democrat Carl Duley, received 7,722 votes (44 percent).

"I've been upfront with the people when I've talked to them," Bube said. "I guess they've been pleased with what I've done."

Bube also expressed appreciation to his opponent for running a "good" campaign.

"It says a lot for the community," he said.


Daniels rolls to re-election

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels coasted to re-election, easily defeating Democratic challenger Jill Long Thompson, who had Crawford Countian Dennie Oxley II as her running mate.

Daniels collected 58 percent of the vote to Thompson's 40 percent.

Daniels and Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman lost Oxley's home county by 1,000 votes, 2,869 to 1,869, but he easily won next-door Harrison County. He received 10,261 votes to 7,428 votes with Libertarian Andy Horning having 338 votes with all 36 precincts reporting despite Thompson making several campaign stops in the area. Daniels won Floyd County 22,460 to Thompson's 13,012 with Horning receiving 573 votes.

Zoeller elected attorney general

Another person with roots in Southern Indiana will take over as Indiana's attorney general. Republican Greg Zoeller will succeed Steve Carter, of the GOP party who decided not to seek a third term.

In Harrison County, Zoeller received 9,430 votes; his opponent, Democrat Linda Pence, received 7,828 votes. Zoeller has served the past eight years as Carter's chief deputy. Zoeller also won Floyd County with 19,262 votes to Pence's 15,326.

However, in Crawford County, Zoeller only collected 1,933 votes to Pence's 2,408.

Clark County's Bennett next state education superintendent

Republican Tony Bennett will succeed Dr. Suellen K. Reed as the state's next Superintendent of Public Instruction, after she decided not to seek another term. Reed, also a Republican, has served 16 years in that position.

In Harrison County, Bennett received 9,171 votes, while his opponent, Democrat Richard D. Wood, had 7,745 votes. Bennett currently is the superintendent for Greater Clark County Schools. In Floyd County, Bennett beat Wood 19,736 votes to 14,680.

In Crawford County, Bennett received 1,893, while Wood tallied 2,349.

Unoffical statewide totals put Bennett with 1,112,391 votes to Wood's 980,717.

Oxley I keeps House seat in family

In the race for District state representative, Dennie Oxley I came out swinging in Crawford County, winning five of the first six precincts reporting, and never looked back.

Although Boone Township gave Oxley's opponent, Republican Steve Davisson, a one-vote edge at 36-35, every other township in the county favored Oxley, some with more than twice the number of votes received by Davisson.

Patoka 1 gave Oxley 404 votes compared to 121 for Davisson. Liberty 2 cast 371 votes for Oxley and only 121 for Davisson.

At the end of the evening, Oxley claimed 3,275 votes (69.55 percent) in Crawford County, which was more votes than any other candidate, including presidential, gubernatorial and congressional candidates received, leaving Davisson far behind with 1,435 votes (30.45 percent).

As the evening wore on, Oxley was able to hold on to the lead he developed in his home county and went on to overall victory with 14,391 (58 percent) of the total vote, leaving Davisson with 42 percent and 10,320 votes.

Oxley stepped in to run for the House seat after his son, Dennie Oxley II, left the seat open after being was chosen as Democrat Jill Long Thompson's running mate in the gubernatorial race. The younger Oxley held the District 73 seat for five terms.

Robertson heads back to Statehouse

Paul Robertson, the Democrat incumbent in the Indiana State Representative District 70, won the seat he's held for some 30 years handily over Republican challenger Tim Hunt. District 70 covers the majority of Harrison County and parts of Clark and Floyd counties.

"I feel very good about Harrison County," Robertson said, as he watched poll numbers come in at the Harrison County Court House election night.

Robertson gives a lot of credit to Hunt, someone he calls "a worthy opponent."

"Anyone that met Tim Hunt liked him," he said. "We ran a positive campaign."

The two made an agreement before the campaign began that they would be respectful of each other and to check with the other person if the campaign turned negative.

"Politics sometimes gets a very bad name," he said. "All races in Harrison County should be praised for running the strong, positive campaigns we ran."

Robertson said, after the election, it will be time to reorganize in Indianapolis under the second term of Gov. Daniels, who Robertson said ran a "flawless" campaign. As for what he says he'll be working on, his priorities remain fair and lasting property tax relief and full funding of all-day kindergarten.

"The Democrats will be reaching across the aisle to the governor, the Republicans, to make the best policies for Indiana," he said. "The election is over; politics is over. The people have elected us to govern and that's what we'll do."

Robertson's final numbers in Harrison County were 10,984 votes and total District 70 votes, 18,843. Hunt had 6,389 votes in Harrison County and 13,501 votes total.


Obama takes Indiana, White House

Not since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 has a Democratic Presidential candidate carried Indiana in an election, but this year Barack Obama managed to pull it off in a tight race that was too close to call until all the precincts had been reported early in the morning. Obama, the Democrat candidate, ended up winning by less than 25,000 votes.

Although Obama may have won the state, McCain, the Republican nominee, faired far better in Harrison County, winning by an 18-point margin. The final numbers for the county were 7,271 votes for Obama and 10,529 votes for McCain. Bob Barr, a Libertarian, claimed 233 votes, and the other 102 votes were made up of various write-in candidates.

McCain won Crawford County as well, but by a slimmer margin of only 3 points with 2,286 votes going to Obama and 2,393 votes going to McCain. Barr had 65 votes in Crawford while write-in candidates accounted for 31 of the votes.

In Floyd County, McCain won by 3,000-plus votes with 19,944 to Obama's 16,248 votes.

Hill easily holds Ninth District seat

Incumbent Democrat Baron Hill cruised to victory in the U.S. Ninth District House of Representatives race, again defeating Republican Mike Sodrel and Libertarian D. Eric Schansberg.

Hill collected 57.6 percent of the vote to Sodrel's 38.6 and Schansberg's 8.8.

Hill was first elected to the seat in 1998 when 34-year incumbent Democrat Lee Hamilton chose not to seek re-election. After holding the seat for three terms, he was defeated by Sodrel in 2004. Hill, however, regained the seat in 2006 in a third match-up with Sodrel that also included Schansberg.

With all 36 precincts in Harrison County reporting, Hill led Sodrel in the vote tally 10,143 to 7,272; Schansberg garnered 710.

In Crawford County, Hill received 2,980 votes to Sodrel's 1,606 and Schansberg's 168.

In Floyd County, Hill received 19,973 to Sodrel's 15,023 and Schansberg's 1,233.

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