District 60 State Representative Peggy Welch says she will not submit her name for consideration as a possible candidate to replace Vi Simpson in the Indiana Senate. Some members of the caucus who will vote for Simpson’s replacement say Welch is not liberal enough to earn their support.
When Simpson accepted the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor and her spot on the November ballot came open, a number of political analysts suggested the safe Democratic seat would be attractive to Welch. Welch faces the toughest re-election challenge since she’s been in the House, as she’s pitted against Morgan County Clerk Peggy Mayfield in a redrawn district which now includes Martinsville.
Welch has previously said she was not sure if she’d seek to replace Simpson because she would spent months introducing herself to Morgan County voters. On Friday, she cited that as one reason she would stick with the race for which she filed.
“This sounds so politician-ish, but I have really come to fall in love and have developed a deep respect, especially for the citizens of Morgan County,” Welch says. “I’ve even kind of become protective of them.”
But another reason for her decision not to run may be that members of the Monroe County Democratic Party, which will hold a caucus Thursday to fill Simpson’s ballot position, do not support some of Welch’s votes in the House.
Charlotte Zietlow, who will cast one of more than 60 votes in the caucus, says she respects Welch but admits telling her “The light of hope would go out for thousands and thousands of people” — meaning she believes Welch’s election to the Senate would diminish the voices of supporters of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and those of women’s reproductive rights advocates.
“I understand it would be hurtful, but in fact what Peggy has done and what Peggy has said has been very hurtful to many, many, many people in this state,” Zietlow says.
Zietlow says she told Welch as much, even though she knew she might hurt the seven-term lawmaker’s feelings.
“I suspect it was hurtful, but I believe it’s true,” she says.
Though she says people of many political stripes encouraged her to run, Welch says she didn’t get any advice from Simpson on whether to seek the seat.
“My sense from her is that she was going to be hands-off,” Welch says. “This was a decision that was to be made by the precinct committee people and she doesn’t serve as a precinct committeeperson.”
Zietlow cites Welch’s vote supporting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage as a major contributor to her decision to refuse to support the Bloomington Democrat.
10:00 A.M. Update
District 60 State Rep. Peggy Welch (D-Bloomington) says she will not enter her name for consideration as a possible candidate to replace Vi Simpson (D-Ellettsville) in the Indiana Senate.
Welch is slated to face Morgan County Clerk Peggy Mayfield in November’s general election and has worked for most of the year at increasing her name recognition in the district, which was redrawn by the Indiana General Assembly following the 2010 census. Welch has previously said she wasn’t sure if she’d seek to replace Simpson because of the effort already spent introducing herself to Morgan County voters.
Welch’s seat now includes the northeastern part of Monroe County and much of Morgan County. The city of Martinsville is now in the district, but parts of the city of Bloomington were removed during the redistricting.
Simpson’s Senate district was also redrawn by the Republican-led legislature, but in an effort to consolidate it to Democratic-leaning Monroe County. That district now covers only the northern eight of the county’s 11 townships.