During a caucus in West Lafayette, Indiana House Democrats decided that longtime Minority Leader Pat Bauer would no longer serve in that position.
According to Fox59's Aishah Hasnie, 23 people showed up for the vote; Democrats needed at least 21 votes to oust Bauer, D-South Bend, who has been locked in a bitter battle over his leadership. He called a news conference Wednesday to say that he wouldn't step down and downplayed Thursday's caucus.
Democrats elected Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, of District 1 in northwestern Indiana to serve as interim minority leader through the November elections.
Bauer called any such move "unnecessary" and "illegal" in comments made the day before the caucus met. He has represented the 6th District since 1970. He'd served as Minority Leader since 2002.
"The majority of our members have spoken," said Lawson, who's served as floor leader for the past two years. "We met, discussed and decided to take steps to move our party forward, including making a change in our leadership. After serving House District 1 since 1998, I'm honored to be placed in this position at such a critical time for our party."
Lawson is a veteran of the Hammond Police Department and graduate of Indiana University. She thanked Bauer for his leadership, but said it's time for a change.
"Pat has done many positive things over the course of his leadership term, doing a great job of securing funding for schools and leading efforts to assist many of the underprivileged and underserved around the state," Lawson said. "I don't want to take anything away from his successes, but when members of our caucus look for leadership, they have decided to go in a different, more positive direction."
Bauer released a statement saying he didn't agree with the outcome of the vote, but expressed his support for Lawson as Minority Leader. He told Fox59 he would accept the vote.
"I think Representative Lawson is a great leader. She has a great background, particularly in standing up for working people," Bauer said. "She will respect the candidates we have working hard every day. They are really the future of our party and they deserve recognition and support. Linda also knows how to treat staff at the Statehouse and on the campaigns."
“After today, I hope we’ll get back to the business of helping members retain their seats and helping candidates be victorious in their elections. We must get back to a unified effort of supporting all of our great candidates and members," Bauer said. "They all have wonderful backgrounds. These people deserve our support after giving so much of their time and effort.
Indiana Republican Party State Chairman Eric Holcomb also responded to the news, releasing a brief statement regarding Bauer.
"If this stands, we're sorry to see Pat Bauer go," Holcomb said.