It seems like the Advance Indiana post from yesterday about Democratic State Representative Scott Pelath struck a chord in the Statehouse. After all, how often is that you get a phone call from a Republican senator to defend a Democratic representative?
From AI's update:
The principal author of SJR-7, Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Wheatfield) contacted me this evening to advise me that it was his decision alone who was named as the principal House authors. He informs me he personally chose Rep. Eric Turner and Rep. Pelath as the House sponsors because of their respective leadership roles in the House within their caucuses. Rep. Pelath chairs the House Rules Committee, while Rep. Turner is Assistant Republican Leader. Sen. Hershman was concerned Rep. Pelath might be harmed by a decision he made. I told Sen. Hershman I appreciated him sharing that information with me. But as I told him, each legislator ultimately must bear responsibility for any legislation to which he or she puts their name. That legislator ultimately must defend why the legislation or, in this case a constitutional amendment, was worthy of their stamp of approval. I should point out I have also been contacted by some Democrats after I first published this post advising me that Rep. Pelath's intentions may have only been to influence the ultimate outcome of the amendment by obtaining a degree of control over it and not meant to lend support to the amendment's passage. Time will tell what Pelath's true motivations are.
Am I the only one who smells something fishy here? What are the chances that bipartisanship would go this far? I agree with Gary completely that Rep Pelath made a decision to allow his name to be used as a co-sponsor on the amendment. If there was an amendment on the docket to outlaw inter-racial marriage, would Pelath sign up as a co-sponsor to "influence the ultimate outcome"? When your party is in the majority, can't you simply add your own amendment and have a reasonable chance of success? After all, anyone can amend the amendment...
While Pelath may have other motives for his sponsorship, I can't help but think that the reason for Hershman's call was that Pelath was getting spooked and might be looking for a way out. After all, with revered state senator Anita Bowser's passing, the comparisons between the two Michigan City legislators were bound to happen. Senator Bowser (May God rest her soul) steadfastly defended the LGBT community from attack while Pelath has co-sponsored the amendment she fought against so hard. Senator Bowser actually came to the judicial committee hearing in a wheelchair so she could speak out - all while battling the debilitating cancer that killed her a few weeks later. The differences between the two are startling and pronounced.
As Gary says, "Time will tell..." but, for now, I'm not holding my breath.