Representative Pat Bauer (D-South Bend) has been removed from his position as House Democratic Leader. Members from the state Democratic party held a caucus meeting in Lafayette on Thursday. They voted to remove Bauer and elected Representative Linda Lawson (D-Hammond) in his place.
Twenty-three Democrats attended the caucus. At least 21 votes were needed to replace Bauer. Frustration within the minority caucus had been building for some time, but an earlier attempt to oust Bauer failed.
Lawson, who becomes the first woman to lead the caucus, says the position is not something she ever really wanted.
“I love this caucus and I’m really proud to be a member here and appreciate everything that all members have done,” he says. “I mean, we’re going to have to really pull together now.”
Bauer, who Wednesday questioned the legitimacy of the caucus’s attempt to replace him, says he will step aside in favor of Lawson.
“I believe that Linda will make a good leader; a great leader,” he says. “I mean, I actually supported her to be my floor leader and so I think I know how to pick good leaders.”
Bauer says he wants the focus to shift back to electing Democrats in the fall. The 42-year House veteran says he will provide whatever support Lawson accepts.
Rep. Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City)
Voting to change leadership has been heartbreaking.
“Politics are very difficult, but we’re talking about somebody that we’ve loved, we’ve admired, we’ve supported. It has been a long journey by which we’ve gotten to this point, but there’s a certain point when you’ve got to recognize that there’s no better time than the present to go in a new direction.”
Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington)
The change in leadership will unite, not divide the caucus, and energize Democrats.
“A lot of people out there in Indiana are depending on us because our schools have taken hits, the developmentally disabled, the most vulnerable in our state. People need jobs, they need wages to be increased. There’s a lot of bad decisions that have been made in this last General Assembly and if we don’t get more Democrats elected to reverse those policies, there’s going to be a lot more hurt in this state.”
Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary)
All the Democrats in the House love and respect Pat Bauer.
We need a new direction. We need to look forward to the future and we feel that is best done with new leadership. It is not a matter of disrespecting Pat Bauer.