Indiana Toll Road a factor in ousting several House Republicans

| 11/8/2006

The lease of the Indiana Toll Road proved to be a motivator for Indiana voters, according to political analysts following Tuesday's election.

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is not up for re-election until 2008, lost control of the state's House to the Democrats, while the Republicans retained control in the state Senate.

"We would have liked to see more changes in the state house, but we were generally pleased," said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. "Voters let their officials know that the lawmakers weren't paying attention."

OOIDA issued a "Call to Action" for thousands of its members who live in Indiana not only to vote, but to vote out the incumbents who approved the lease of the toll road, and to back candidates opposed to the privatization of infrastructure.

In Indiana's federal races, voters changed the state's congressional delegation from seven Republicans and two Democrats to five Democrats and four Republicans.

The Star said Republicans were "weighed down" by the leasing of the toll road.

State Rep. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, a vocal privatization opponent, was re-elected in his House race and will remain Speaker of the Indiana House.

Bauer told the Indianapolis Star that Hoosiers were skeptical of the lease of the Indiana Toll Road to a private investor for $3.85 billion in cash.

Bauer said a split state government will provide more checks and balances than one that is Republican-controlled, particularly on highway privatization.

"One thing we want to make sure is they don't have secret bidding on privatization," Bauer said.

Despite a state turnover in the House from Republican to Democrat control, two northeast Indiana districts in the Indiana Toll Road corridor re-elected their Republican incumbents.

Several state races had yet to be tallied in Indiana as of Wednesday afternoon, but it was confirmed that Democrats had at least 51 seats in the House.

Republicans believe the split state government will lead to gridlock. Leaders from both parties said gridlock or not, they are willing to work on building the future of Indiana.

- By David Tanner. staff writer