Evansville Mayoral Race Could Play Key Role in 2012 Slates

The race to be the next mayor of Evansville could go a long way toward deciding how the 2012 political slate will look statewide.

Pete Buttgieg

Photo: Bill Shaw

Former Democratic Treasurer Candidate Pete Buttigieg -- seen here at a 2010 campaign stop in Bloomington -- says he's considering running for mayor of South Bend.

The race to be the next mayor of Evansville could go a long way toward deciding how the 2012 political slate will look statewide. Democratic mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel may pass up reelection to run for governor. Vanderburgh County Treasurer Rick Davis is running in the Democratic primary whether Weinzapfel runs or not.  State Democratic chairman Dan Parker said he‘s confident either Weinzapfel or another Democrat will win the mayor‘s race, despite big Republican wins in Vanderburgh County in 2010.

“In the legislative seat that primarily takes up the city of Evansville, Gail Rieken defeated Cheryl Musgrave, who may be a candidate for mayor.  We feel confident we’ll be able to hold the Evansville mayor’s office,” Parker said.

However, Musgrave on Monday announced she would not seek to replace Weinzapfel. Outgoing Republican chairman Murray Clark said Republicans are still looking to close a 20-seat disparity in mayor’s offices statewide, including the Evansville office.

“Fort Wayne continues to be an opportunity for us.  The reelection effort of Mayor [Duke] Bennett in Terre Haute is going to be important and challenging,” he said.

In South Bend, the main action is in the Democratic primary, following mayor Stephen Luecke‘s announcement he won‘t run again. Representative Ryan Dvorak, former state treasurer nominee Pete Buttigieg and Saint Joseph County councilman Mike Hamann are all considering the race. Nine of Indiana‘s 13 largest cities have Democratic mayors. Parker maintains all except heavily Republican Carmel are within reach. Franklin mayor Fred Paris, Bedford‘s Shawna Girgis and Frankfort‘s Chris Pippenger are independents.

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