State Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne, handily won re-election Tuesday, turning back a feisty challenger who tried to harness anger among union workers over state’s controversial new “right-to-work” law.
Long, the Senate president pro tem, defeated Democrat Tom Keen by almost a 30-percentage-point margin, winning 31,499 votes compared with 17,091 for his challenger throughout Senate District 16.
“It’s gratifying to get the kind of support we got, knowing we took some tough votes down there (in Indianapolis) and some tough positions to move the state forward,” Long said Tuesday night.
Keen had tried to rally unions and teachers against Long, largely because of the right-to-work law – which bans companies and unions from requiring that workers pay union dues as a condition of employment – and education reforms.
But Keen, who faced a huge fundraising disadvantage against Long, said he did not get the intense support he expected from area unions.
“I may have misjudged labor’s intensity against right-to-work,” Keen said, adding that he was disappointed in his overall vote total and had hoped to win more than his 35 percent tally.
“I think I was very competitive on the limited amount of money we had,” Keen said. With more money, Keen said, he could have raised more awareness about himself through direct mail and TV advertising.
Long, who has led reform efforts as the leader of the state Senate, said his win came with a sense of gratification that voters approved of the bold agenda pushed in recent years under Gov. Mitch Daniels and Republicans in the legislature.
In the 2013 session, Long said he would focus on passing a balanced budget with no tax increases. The legislature will be working with new Republican governor-elect Mike Pence, who has already proposed a plan for across-the-board income tax cuts.