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Oxley I's health condition leaves party wondering

January 13, 2010
With the state legislative session in full swing as of Jan. 5, constituents in the 73rd House District are still unrepresented in Indianapolis.

Dennie Oxley I, D-Taswell, who has held the seat since 2008, was admitted to a hospital in Jasper in mid-November due to an undisclosed illness and just hours later, according to a state Democratic spokesman, suffered cardiac arrest while being held for observation.

Since then, the family has issued only one statement about Oxley. The press release, issued early last week, stated, "We have asked that the Speaker of the House excuse Dennie from attending Indiana House sessions in Indiana this week.

"Although Dennie will not be able to be there, we fully expect him to be back at his job serving the people of the 73rd House District very soon. Again, the family thanks everyone for their prayers and messages of support. We ask that you continue to keep Dennie in your thoughts as he gets back on the road to good health."

The family, however, did not release details about Oxley's health condition.

With the election cycle bringing deadlines on filing for re-election, decisions will have to be made soon about whether Oxley will be able to run for another term.

"We're certainly hoping that Dennie will be able to come back," Mike Jones, district Democratic chairman, said. "The 73rd District is a strong Democratic area, but both sides will be spending money this time around to win every house seat they can. This can decide how the political map is drawn for the next 10 years."

Oxley, 60, took over the seat when his son, Dennie Oxley II, who held the seat from 1999 to 2008, pulled out to make an unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor with the Jill Long Thompson campaign.

"On Jan. 20, people will start filing to run for the new term," Dan Parker, state Democratic chairman, said. "And this is a very important election year.

"Our hope is that Dennie will recover quickly. Right now, I don't have any more information on him than anyone else. And there's not really any protocol to deal with a legislator who can't serve during a session.

"This session ends in March, and I think we'll be fine; we have a 51-48 majority. But this is a very unfortunate situation for everyone."

Those wishing to run for political office will have until noon on Friday, Feb. 19, to file with their county clerk.

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