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'I was shocked': Borders to defend House seat after Ellington announces move

Indiana Reps. Bruce Borders and Jeff Ellington

Left: Indiana Rep. Bruce Borders (R-Jasonville); right: Rep. Jeff Ellington (R-Bloomington) (Indiana House Republicans)

State Rep. Bruce Borders isn’t going down without a fight. 

Borders, the longtime Republican representative for Indiana’s House District 45, ran unopposed in the 2020 general election. He’ll have an unexpected primary challenger in 2022 – fellow Republican Rep. Jeff Ellington. 

“I was shocked about it, to be honest with you,” Borders said over the phone from his insurance office in Jasonville. “I mean, he never approached me about it.” 

Ellington announced Oct. 20 he will be moving from his home south of Bloomington west to Bloomfield and intends to run to represent the 45th District.   

Borders said he dialed up Ellington a few days before the announcement to confirm the rumors he was hearing were true. 

“I just called him I said, ‘Jeff, I've heard this (from other legislators).’ And he was apprehensive about talking about it. And then he said, ‘Yeah, we're looking at doing that,’” Borders said. 

Ellington, who declined a phone interview in favor of answering emailed questions, said the move to Bloomfield had been planned since he bought an old mill there in 2018.

2010 Indiana maps
Indiana House Districts, 2011-2021. (Indiana House Republicans)

Ellington’s current district, District 62, changed when the Republican-dominated state legislature completed redistricting in October. A GOP caucus appointed Ellington to the district in 2015 after former Republican Rep. Matt Ubelhor decided to leave the General Assembly. 

For the last decade, most of Greene County was included in the 62nd District, along with a portion of southern Monroe County. Now the 62nd has shifted east and is composed mostly of Monroe and Brown counties; Greene and Sullivan now make up most of the 45th.

Ellington voted against the district changes earlier this year, writing in an email “it chopped up one of the most important communities of interest in the state, the I-69 Crane-IU corridor.” 

When asked what his response was to those who say he’s jumping to a safer Republican district, Ellington said both districts still lean Republican:  

“It will be tough for Democrats to get past the GOP firewall of Brown and Jackson counties (in District 62). But I am still in what you are saying is District 45. My CURRENT district now is roughly the majority of the new District 45 – I represent 95 percent of Greene County now, and have since 2015.” 

Ellington says his familiarity with Greene and Daviess counties is the other reason he’s running in District 45.

READ MORE: Monroe Co. commissioner Githens announces bid for Statehouse

2020 Indiana maps
Indiana House Districts, 2021-2031. (Indiana House Republicans)

“[The district] must have leadership experienced with keeping Crane and others healthy,” he wrote. “Those counties also need a leader experienced in fighting for coal jobs, agricultural growth and economic development in a mostly rural district.” 

Borders says his conservative leadership, faith and experience in the area make him the right guy for the job. A portion of Greene County was in the 45th District when Borders was initially elected in 2004.  

That changed when the General Assembly redrew maps in 2010. Borders voted in favor of the changes and subsequently lost a close election in 2012. He was re-elected to the seat in 2014, which he has kept since. 

He’s hoping the same thing doesn’t happen with this round of redistricting.  

“It's a part of it; I mean, demographics change, people move,” Borders said. “I've never ran from a from a tough fight.”

Correction: Ellington announced we was moving to Bloomfield Oct. 20.

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