News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 16, 2014

Battles resigns

House seat vacant after abrupt exit; Dems look for new candidate

TERRE HAUTE — To anyone hoping for a potentially very close election contest in Indiana’s 45th House district, the resignation Friday of Democratic state Rep. Kreg Battles may come as a big disappointment.

Battles, 55, announced Friday his decision to give up his seat representing the newly-refashioned 45th District, which was a combination of Battles’ former 64th House district and district 45, formerly represented by Bruce Borders, a Republican.

The Battles-Borders race in 2012 was unique in that it pitted two incumbents against each other. The result was one of the closest races in 2012. Of 25,000 votes cast, just 75 separated Battles from Borders.

The November 2014 election was set to be a rematch of the nail-biting 2012 race.

With Battles’ resignation, effective Friday, the Democratic Party must now name someone to fill his position until the term expires at the end of the year. The 2014 legislative session ended in March, but lawmakers can have year-round duties, including committee assignments, constituent service and campaigning.

Battles said he decided to step down to spend more time with his family, particularly his five grandsons.

“It’s a great honor to serve” in the Indiana legislature, Battles said in a telephone interview Friday from Vincennes Lincoln High School where he teaches chemistry. But “your family loses part of your life,” he said. His wife, Susy, and the rest of his family would support him whatever his decision, Battles added. However, “it became glaringly obvious,” as his grandsons have started activities such as “T-ball,” that he would be unable to be both a lawmaker and an active grandfather, he said.

“I don’t regret the decision,” he said. “The priorities are right.”

Battles said he is not experiencing any health-related problems. Nor did his decision stem from any changes at the Statehouse. The decision was purely a decision to spend more time with his family, he said.

Borders, who was uncontested in the Republican primary, said he understands Battles’ decision.

“I wish him and his family the best,” Borders said. “There is a huge time commitment” involved in serving in the legislature, he said. “You’re away from your family.”

Despite being from opposing parties, “Kreg and I always got along,” Borders said.

The next step is for the state Democratic Party to call a caucus of precinct committee members in the 45th District, who will then name a successor to finish Battles’ term, which expires at the end of this year.

Battles has made a recommendation for his successor, but “it is strictly in [the committee members’] court,” he said. “It is open to suggestion. There may be someone out there that’s very capable and qualified that I never thought of.”

Battles represented the 64th District for three terms and the 45th for one. Borders represented the 45th District for four terms and will be seeking a fifth term in November’s general election.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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