TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State Rep. Bruce Borders, a long-time Republican representative from Greene County, apparently lost his re-election bid Tuesday by a razor-thin margin to Democrat Rep. Kreg Battles, also a member of the Indiana House.
The election in the new district carved out of southwest Indiana was decided by fewer than 100 votes, according to provisional results, 12,487 to 12,398.
Borders would not rule out seeking a recount when results were initially reported. He could not be reached later in the evening.
Repeated attempts to reach Battles Tuesday night were unsuccessful.
Battles, 54, and Borders, 53, have each served several terms in the Indiana House. Battles, if his victory is not overturned, will be starting his fourth two-year term in January. Borders was seeking a fifth term.
Battles, a Democrat, prides himself on a pragmatic approach to politics and has referred to himself as a “conservative.” His former district was District 64, which included parts of Vincennes and areas to the city’s southwest.
Borders, former mayor of Jasonville, campaigned as a fiscal and social conservative and said it was obviously a challenge for him to win over new voters in Battles’ home county of Knox.
“I had the John Gregg factor,” Borders added, noting that Gregg, the Democratic Party’s candidate for Indiana governor, is also from Knox County. Borders is from Greene County.
As of 8:30 Tuesday night, Borders, speaking by telephone from his home in Jasonville, said he had not yet called Battles to concede because the margin was so close and change was still possible. Still, he sounded resigned to eventually making that call.
“I will call him,” Borders said.
Battles won Knox County by a vote of 6,709 to 5,634. Borders won Sullivan County by approximately 500 votes but lost his home county of Greene by seven votes, 695 to 688.
Battles and Borders each had to meet thousands of new voters in the run-up to Tuesday’s election thanks to redistricting. Borders had to campaign for the first time in Vincennes, while Battles had to campaign for the first time in Sullivan and Vigo counties.
Borders and Battles agreed on several social issues – such as banning smoking in public places in the state – but differed on economic matters. In recent years, Borders supported Indiana’s new property tax caps while Battles voted against making them part of the state’s constitution. Borders also favored making Indiana a right-to-work state, but Battles voted against that.
The 45th District race, which pitted Borders against Battles, was the only race for an Indiana House seat that featured two incumbents – a result of redistricting.
Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.