STATE SENATE Craycraft pulls out win over Phipps

With 16,722 votes, Democrat incumbent Allie Craycraft retained his seat in the 26th District of the State Senate Tuesday.

But the most important numbers during the upcoming Senate will proceed dollar signs, as Craycraft and the rest of the senators work to craft Indiana's budget.

Craycraft held off Republican-challenger Andrew Phipps by 644 votes to claim 51 percent of the returns in a race that remained close throughout the evening.

"We worked hard and put together a good campaign," Craycraft said in his acceptance speech. "It's been a great honor to work with the group of people who have lead me to this win."

For Craycraft, it was a bittersweet victory as his son, Democrat Steve Craycraft, lost to Republican George Sheridan in the race for county sheriff.

"There's been some disappointments tonight," the elder Craycraft said to an emotional crowd at the Democratic Headquarters Building at 214 N. Walnut St. "But I lost my first race by 46 votes, and it's important to remember to keep going and support this party."

Phipps, who waited out the election with the Republican Party at the Knights of Columbus on 3600 W. Purdue Rd., said he thought he could win, though he knew it would be an uphill battle going into election day.

"We gave it our best shot," Phipps said, "but we knew it would be tough to unseat a 24-year incumbent."

Phipps, who campaigned for less taxes and more-efficient management at the state level, said the election may have had a different outcome had he received more financial help from the state.

"We received no money from the Senate majority leadership," Phipps said. "We raised everything and had no money from political action committees."

Craycraft said his top priority when the Senate reconvenes in January is to revive the economy - which has recently suffered from a $1.3 billion deficit.

"The economy is really what all other issues are based upon," Craycraft said. "As soon as I can, one of my goals is to restore to state employees their pay raises. They've done a tremendous job over the years, and it's time to look out for them."

Craycraft spent the days leading up to Tuesday's election wrapping up what he said was a neutral race against Phipps.

"I respect my opponent, and I never felt that there was any negativism in this race," Craycraft said. "I think if I would have allowed myself to do something like that, I would have just called it quits."

Phipps agreed the race had been well-contested.

"We kept it clean and fought hard," he said.

Despite Phipps' loss, the Republicans in Delaware County remained upbeat.

"I don't think anyone did more to win than Andrew and Shirlene (Phipps' wife)," said Kay Whitehead, the county's Republican party chairwoman.

Craycraft maintained that he would try to cross the aisle and work with his opposing party on future issues in the Senate.

"All of us - Democrats and Republicans included - have been hit hard with job loss and the recession," Craycraft said. "I want to reach out to Republicans and local businesses because I think we can turn this around. We just need to make the effort to see that such a fight happens."


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