Challenges from within his own party and the need to reach new voters have prompted Indiana Sen. John Waterman, R-39, to announce his candidacy for a sixth term nearly a year before the May 2014 Republican primary.
Waterman, 61, announced his plans to seek re-election to the General Assembly in a news release issued Thursday by the Senate Majority Campaign Committee.
Because of redistricting in 2011, Waterman, like many other Indiana lawmakers, finds himself representing new voters in different parts of the state. When the 39th senate district was redrawn, it was moved farther to the south, taking in Martin County and the southern half of Daviess County. The district no longer includes southern Vigo County.
“I hated that because I grew up in southern Vigo County in Prairieton,” Waterman said Thursday evening. “I’m not well known in those [southern Daviess and Martin counties] areas,” he said.
Waterman’s announcement, the earliest of his senate career, comes just days after a Washington, Ind., city councilman, Eric Bassler, announced his candidacy for the 39th District seat. Bassler, a Republican, is the first challenger to step up to face Waterman in the May 2014 primary, but the incumbent expects at least one additional challenge, he said.
“Seems like some of these senators run unopposed every time,” Waterman said laughing. “I always have a host of candidates come out. … Back when I was in the [Sullivan County] sheriff’s office, we had nine [candidates] come out one time.”
In 2010, Ron Borger, a Vincennes Republican, ran against Waterman in the GOP primary. Waterman won that race handily and went on to win re-election over Democrat Steve Thais by nearly 10,000 votes.
“Keeps you on your toes,” Waterman said of the frequent challenges.
Waterman, if re-elected, said he hopes to continue to push for improved international export opportunities for Hoosier products and also for improved vocational education in Indiana schools. Potential investors will avoid Indiana if workers are not properly trained in skills such as welding and machine operating, he said.
Waterman, whose district includes significant coal mining operations, said he will also continue to fight to preserve the coal industry against new federal regulations.
Regarding the 2011 redistricting, Waterman said he had no control over that process.
“They asked me where I wanted to stay and I said southern Vigo County and Vincennes,” Waterman recalled. “I lost both of them. I should have kept my mouth shut, I guess.”
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or email@example.com