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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

GOP must replace Lawson in two spots

Monday, March 19, 2012

Connie Lawson
For her 16 years of service, State Sen. Connie Lawson (R-Danville) leaves some big shoes to fill as she departs for the Indiana Secretary of State's office. But are those shoes so big they will have to be filled twice?

Not exactly, but precinct committee members of Senate District 24 will have to meet twice in order to replace Lawson, first in office, and second on the ballot.

Indiana Republican Party Communication Director Pete Seat told the Banner Graphic the first order of business is officially receiving Lawson's resignation and then getting the ball rolling on filling her Senate seat.

"Whenever we receive the notification of resignation of Sen. Lawson, which will come to us from Sen. (David) Long, the President Pro Tem of the Senate, our state Republican Chairman Eric Holcomb has 30 days in which to call a caucus," Seat said. "The precinct committee men and women that Sen. Lawson represented -- that is the pre-redistricting district -- will convene and select an individual to fill out the remainder of her term, which goes through the calendar year."

For Putnam County, this includes all precinct committee members from Russell, Franklin, Jackson, Clinton, Monroe, Floyd, Madison, Greencastle and Marion townships.

Whomever is chosen for this role will not officially act as a legislator during this term, as the 2012 General Assembly session ended earlier this month, and Lawson's current term ends on Dec. 31.

The next question, though, is who will represent the GOP on the general election ballot. Lawson had already filed to appear on the May primary ballot, but she is no longer eligible for the office.

Changes to District 24 complicate the issue, making it more than simply the same group of people convening to nominate Lawson's replacement on the ballot.

"Where it continues to get just a little tricky under the circumstances, is Sen. Lawson was the only individual on the Republican primary ballot for that Senate seat," Seat said. "So post-primary, another caucus will be convened that will be comprised of the precinct committee members from the new district. They will choose a person to fill the vacancy on the general election ballot."

Redistricting's effect in Putnam County was on Greencastle Township, which was divided between two State Senate districts. The precinct committee members from Greencastle North, Limedale, First North, Second East and Second West will all be part of the post-primary caucus. The remainder of Greencastle Township is now in District 37.

All other townships Lawson represented remain unchanged.

With two slightly different groups of people voting in two caucuses, there is no guarantee the person who fills the seat will also be November's candidate.

"There's a potential that it could be two separate people," Seat said.

Republican officials have not set the time, date or location of either caucus, although Seat said the first is likely to take place on Saturday, April 7.

For anyone interested in seeking the District 24 Senate seat, information on the process will be available when the official announcement of the caucus comes from the Republican Party.

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