A legislative analyst says it is possible Vi Simpson’s decision to leave the Indiana Senate and run for lieutenant governor could spell double jeopardy for Indiana University.
No matter who replaces Vi Simpson in the Senate’s Democratic caucus, it is unlikely they will immediately rise to the role of Minority Leader, as the seven-term Ellettsville senator had.
Ed Feigenbaum, the editor of Indiana Legislative Insight, says that means Indiana University’s clout is almost sure to diminish – and even more so if Bloomington State Rep. Peggy Welch runs for the seat.
“The Vi Simpson departure will probably be a blow of sorts to Indiana University because Vi Simpson has been a strong proponent of higher education funding and funding for IU in particular,” he says. “If Peggy Welch were to leave the join to run for and join the Senate, that takes away a key voice on the House Ways and Means Committee.”
Welch says she is weighing her options, but has not committed to either entering or forgoing the Senate race. In a statement, Indiana University officials say only that they are grateful for Simpson’s service and will work with whomever takes her place.