INDIANAPOLIS – This weeks House Democratic exodus isnt the first case of political flight in Indianas history and certainly isnt the most colorful.
Most of the previous boycotts relate to redistricting – but not all of them – and only a few have involved heading across the state border.
The most recent walkout was in 2005 when House Democrats refused to leave caucus in a squabble over a variety of issues, including a voter identification bill.
More than 130 bills died in the one-day event that Gov. Mitch Daniels famously called an eleventh-hour car bombing.
In 2001, it was House Republicans who refused to come to the floor for three days because of concerns over new legislative boundaries. No bills were killed, though.
Before that, House Democrats abandoned the Statehouse for about two weeks in 1995 over another redistricting squabble.
That walkout came when Republicans tried to reduce the number of House seats from 100 to 99 and redraw the districts. They contended it was to avoid confusion and difficulty in the case of a split chamber.
But Democrats, buoyed by legal opinions and favorable news coverage, stayed away. They said the move was unconstitutional because redistricting can be done only after a census or a under a court order.
Perhaps Indianas most spectacular party bolt took place in 1925, when Senate Republicans tried to alter the congressional districts.
Thirteen Senate Democrats broke a quorum by boarding a bus and traveling to Dayton. A 14th missed the bus and arrived cold and wet after hitchhiking.
For the next two days, U.S. 40 between Indianapolis and Dayton was jammed with process servers and Republican politicos trying to coax, cajole or coerce the fugitives back to their seats, according to the book History of the Indiana General Assembly.
A Marion County grand jury threatened to indict the members, and there was talk of using the state militia to retrieve them.
Meanwhile, back in the Senate, Republicans draped the seats of the Democrats in black crepe paper. They also read a telegram purportedly from Ohios lieutenant governor responding to a proposal to exchange five Ohio Republicans for the Indiana Democrats.
Ratio is agreeable but afraid we have no suitable shipping crates, the telegram read.
Eventually, according to the book, Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon D.C. Stephenson went to Dayton to break the deadlock.
Stephenson was thought to control the 1925 General Assembly, and he assured the Democrats the redistricting bill would be dropped and they would be immune from arrest.
The Democrats arrived back singing, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, Ill Be There.