Slager wins House 15 race over O’Donnell
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com November 7, 2012 11:56AM
Updated: December 9, 2012 7:28PM
Schererville Town Council President Hal Slager won the new Indiana House District 15 with about 51 percent of the vote, according to tallies from Lake County.
Slager, a Republican, defeated former Lake County Councilman and Democratic nominee Tom O’Donnell, who took in 49 percent of the vote.
“It was pretty close, probably closer than I expected, but a win all the same against a strong opponent,” he said.
Slager said his next goal was to start learning his way around the Indiana House, as he would for any new job.
O’Donnell said this was the hardest he’s ever worked on a campaign and that even though he lost, he’s proud the race was close. The district favored Republicans by about 51 percent when it was redrawn, he said, and he managed to keep the ratio the same despite being outspent 3-to-1, O’Donnell said.
He added that he was concerned because the seat helps give Republicans a supermajority in the Indiana General Assembly.
“But as they say, the people have spoken,” O’Donnell said.
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., who is also chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party, also cited the district’s makeup as part of the reason for the loss.
“Obviously Tom O’Donnell’s race is the one that I’m taking hard because I convinced him to run,” McDermott said. “He did a great job, but that district was literally drawn and gerrymandered for Republicans. We had all of the odds stacked against us.”
O’Donnell, for now, said he can’t imagine running for the seat again, after the toll of campaigning six days a week.
Slager’s win means Lake County will have two Republicans in the Indiana House. Republican Rick Niemeyer won his race for Indiana House District 11.
House Republicans on Wednesday said they will retain Brian Bosma as speaker; Senate Republicans kept President Pro Tem David Long.
With one race still too close to call, Republicans held a 69-30 edge in the House. Senate Republicans retained their 37-13 edge. The margins gave the GOP the ability to reach quorums even if Democrats walk out, as they have each of the last two House sessions.