The race for Indiana House District 81 pits longtime state Rep. Win Moses against a first-time Republican challenger who has tried to cast the incumbent as a more-of-the-same career politician.
In one of his radio ads, Martin Carbaugh argues that it's time for a change in the Democrat-leaning district, which Moses – a former mayor of Fort Wayne – has represented for more than a decade.
“I believe what makes me different is that I am not a politician,” said Carbaugh, a financial adviser with WestPoint Financial, in an email. “I am a middle-class Fort Wayne native that happens to care a lot about the community I grew up in and continue to live in full time.”
Carbaugh said he understands regulations because of his experience with helping businesses in his job as a financial adviser. As a Concordia school board member, he also knows how to balance a budget, he said.
But Moses says his years of experience in business and government make him the only qualified candidate for the job.
“My case would be proven successful experience,” Moses said in an interview. “I'm prepared to do this job, and I work hard at it.”
If reelected, Moses said he would continue working with both Democrats and Republicans to make sure Fort Wayne gets plenty of attention from state lawmakers as they craft the next two-year budget. He pointed to IPFW and Ivy Tech Northeast as important Fort Wayne institutions that depend on state funding.
Carbaugh said highway and education spending would likely have significant impact on northeast Indiana, adding that if possible, he would support the restoration of some funding that has been cut from public schools over the past two years.
But both candidates agreed that state lawmakers must be cautious about using much of the state's projected surplus, as much of the money already will be tied up in tax rebates and underfunded pensions for state workers.
Each candidate also said he would be open to discussions on state preschool funding but would need to study the issue.
Moses also said he hopes to find common ground with Republican lawmakers on social issues – such as abortion and same-sex marriage – which he said will likely come up more often as the dust settles from recent fights over education and labor reforms.
“The hope is that we can work together on social issues,” he said, adding that he believes some lawmakers' proposals would life more difficult for women. “If those debates come up, hopefully we can find some agreement.”
Carbaugh said he expects the focus to remain on the economy.
“The No. 1 issue, by far, is getting people back to work,” he said.