Tight battle expected in secretary of state race

FILE - In this combo of file and handout photos, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, left, speaks to a group of county officials from the region and media about voting, April 18, 2013 in LaPorte, Ind. and Democratic candidate Beth White, right, is seen. Lawson faces challenger, White, in the 2014 election for Indiana Secretary of State. (AP Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — As candidates head into the final weekend of the 2014 campaign cycle, Democrats and Republicans were both closely focused on what they see as a surprisingly tight secretary of state’s race.

Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson is facing Democratic Marion County Clerk Beth White. Of the three statewide races being decided Tuesday, including the auditor and treasurer’s races, the secretary of state battle is believed to be the closest.

Internal polling has Democratic leaders quietly hoping for a statewide pickup in an election cycle that is looking good for Indiana Republicans.

“Obviously statewide races are tough for Democrats. This isn’t news to us that we had an uphill battle on these statewide races,” said Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said. The party has been out trying to push issues favorable to White and trying to get supporters to the polls, he said.

“I think people are still interested in that race, and that race obviously being at the top of the ticket, it makes a difference at the Statehouse,” he said.

It’s been 24 years since a Democrat won the office, when Joe Hogsett won a full-term after being appointed to serve the remainder of Evan Bayh’s four-year term in 1989. And it’s been 12 years since the secretary of state’s race was the top-of-the-ticket battle in Indiana, with governor’s races and U.S. Senate races drawing attention in other years.

Speaking earlier in the week, Republican Party Chairman Tim Berry said the key to victory would be who ran the best ground game: getting supporters to the polls through direct contact, as opposed major advertising battles that tend to punctuate bigger races.

“It really will be about get-out-the-vote efforts,” Berry said Wednesday.

People casting ballots at the Marion County clerk’s office this week during the early voting period said the economy was on their minds this year.

Robin Reese, a 48-year-old self-employed real estate broker from Indianapolis, said she voted straight Democratic in part because she feels Republicans aren’t supporting initiatives in Indiana and in Congress that would help create jobs.

“I know that our economy is starting to pick up and it’s looking good but we just need more support, more bipartisan support. Jobs are still an issue here in Indianapolis. Even though they’re saying things look better, they’re not. They’ve not really improved,” she said.

 

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