News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 7, 2014

UPDATE: Final Greene County tabulations add votes for both District 39 GOP candidates; outcome unchanged

TERRE HAUTE — Updated vote totals have been posted in the House District 39 race between Republicans Eric Bassler and John M. Waterman.

Election results provided by the Indiana Election Division of the Secretary of State show that Bassler received 6,817 votes while incumbent Waterman received 6,458 votes. Those totals add votes from Greene County to each candidate’s total. Bassler received 1,208 votes while Waterman received 1,840 in that county. Other vote totals remain as reported.

Bassler defeats Waterman in District 39 GOP primary

Note: Original story published for May 7 publication.

A Daviess County businessman has unseated a long-time Sullivan County senator in the District 39 race of the Republican primary.

Eric Bassler had a 490-vote margin of victory over John Waterman in a tally of votes from seven counties. No Democratic candidate has filed as a candidate for the fall general election.

Waterman won the race in five of the seven counties — Clay, Greene, Martin, Owen and Sullivan. Bassler had a small lead in Knox County, but scored an overwhelming win in his backyard of Daviess County, where he received 3,649 votes to Waterman’s 1,189 votes.

Crediting his strong work ethic, Bassler said he started his campaign about 12 months ago and has reached out to voters throughout the district.

“We literally started at essentially zero in the other six counties,” Bassler said of his campaigning outside of Daviess County to build support.

“Because I’m on the city council here in Washington, I had fairly good name recognition here.”

Waterman was seeking a sixth four-year term as he completes his 20th year in the Statehouse.

“Finally, I got my life back,” Waterman said when contacted at his home Tuesday night. “I enjoyed serving all the years that I did. But really, I’ve got seven grandkids and kids at home still, and now I can concentrate on my family.”

Waterman said that the redistricting of District 39 two years ago “changed the whole aspect of the election” for him. He lost a strong voter base in southern Vigo County and picked up several southern Indiana precincts where his challenger had more name recognition.

Waterman said that he will now shift his focus to his long-time work with the Indiana Business Development and Research Corp., which tries to interest out-of-state companies in expanding into Indiana.

“I just got off the phone with some businesses that we’ve been working with for the last year or so, and now I can concentrate on them completely,” he said.

Despite the loss, Waterman said he feels good to have the pressure of the election removed.

“I’ve met a lot of great people through the years, and I have good feelings about a lot of the friendships I’ve made. Now, I’ll just have a lot more time for fishing with the grandkids.”

As for the voting by county, Waterman received 630 votes in Clay, 1,189 votes in Daviess, 1,463 in Greene, 459 in Knox, 429 in Martin, 972 in Owen and 939 in Sullivan for a total of 6,081.

Bassler received 283 votes in Clay, 3,649 in Daviess, 962 in Greene, 484 in Knox, 419 in Martin, 530 in Owen and 244 in Sullivan for a total of 6,571.

The vote totals have not yet been officially certified by the State Election Board.

With the primary victory in hand, Bassler said he plans to take today off to celebrate with his wife on their 21st wedding anniversary. Then on Thursday, he will meet with his campaign team to plan the campaign for November.

“I sure feel that our team was not outworked over the last 12 months, and during the next six months leading up to the fall election, we will not be outworked, and then after becoming Senator I won’t let up,” Bassler said.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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