INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WISH) – Jim Merritt is being challenged in a GOP State Senate primary where gay marriage is a big issue. It’s in a district that includes portions of Marion and Hamilton Counties.
Merritt has been in the State Senate for 24 years and this is the first time he’s been forced to run against a primary opponent. Crystal LaMotte is trying to convince voters that Merritt is too moderate.
Her yard signs claim that LaMotte is the “Real Conservative” in this race. In her home office, she said she’s running because Jim Merritt has been in the State Senate too long.
“I just think he’s lost his conservative edge,” she said.
Merritt has conservative credentials but he’s never been a champion on social issues.
“I have the endorsement from the Right to Life entity,” Merritt said.
In recent years he’s focused on crime, sponsoring bills to crack down on synthetic drugs and backing efforts to create longer prison sentences for gun crimes.
However, the recent battle over gay marriage dominated the 2014 General Assembly and it’s a focus in a video created by LaMotte’s campaign.
“Marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman,” she says in the video, “and we must preserve this God ordained institution.”
LaMotte has the support of one of the leading groups opposed to gay marriage.
“Indiana Family Action PAC who is the arm of IFI, Indiana Family Institute is my largest endorser right now,” LaMotte said.
Merritt is opposed to gay marriage but is also one of the Senate leaders who acted to prevent a referendum this year. He believes that made him a target of the right wing.
“In the last ten years there’s always been a leader that folks have actually gone after,” Merritt said.
This year, it’s Jim Merritt.