INDIANAPOLIS – House Democrats selected a pro-life, pro-gun Democrat as their new leader Monday in a private caucus.
Rep. Terry Goodin of Austin defeated Fort Wayne Rep. Phil GiaQuinta. Goodin, a public school superintendent, takes over for Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, who resigned his leadership post last week.
“The hair is finally laying down on my arms. As we move forward, we have a lot of work to do,” Goodin said. “The Democrats are going to have a new face, a good message, and as we move forward, everybody's going to be on the same page.”
Goodin was first elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 2000. He represents the citizens of Indiana House District 66 in southern Indiana.
Democrats have only 30 seats in the Indiana House.
Goodin said his caucus will reveal its priorities closer to the session's opening Jan. 3.
The election for the leadership post came down to one vote but was said to be courteous.
“Look, anytime you put yourself out there and it doesn't go your way, you're obviously disappointed,” GiaQuinta said. “But we'll move forward with leader Goodin and take it from there as we head into session.”
GiaQuinta has served House District 80, which comprises south-central Fort Wayne, since 2006.
“I have known Dr. Goodin for a number of years and have great respect for his work ethic and abilities,” Fort Wayne Senate President Pro Tem David Long said. “I look forward to working with him and his caucus in the upcoming legislative session as we seek to continue to build upon our strong record of creating opportunities and successes for all Hoosier citizens.“
Goodin is most knowledgeable on education topics. Over the years, he has voted with Republicans on a number of social issues, including a ban on gay marriage in 2011. He also recently co-authored legislation allowing victims of domestic violence to carry a gun without a permit while the licensure process is ongoing.
“This is all about elections. We know that,” Goodin said. “We're going to give the people in the state of Indiana their voice back, and that's going to be our No. 1 priority.”
According to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce 2017 Legislator vote scores, Goodin voted with the camber position 65 percent of the time.
Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma says that in Indiana, the vast majority of successful legislation passes with bipartisan support.
“Hoosier legislators have a long track record of reaching across the aisle to find common ground on many issues, and we look forward to continuing that work with the new minority leader, State Rep. Terry Goodin, as we head into another important legislative session,” Bosma said.