UPDATE: Boehnlein to seek Grooms’ seat; Carruthers questions process

INDIANAPOLIS — State Sen. Ron Grooms had already announced he wouldn’t seek re-election in 2022, but the Jeffersonville Republican has decided to end his term a year early.

Grooms will step down from his District 46 seat on Nov. 2.

“It’s been an incredible privilege serving the people of Senate District 46 for the last 10-plus years,” Grooms said in a statement issued Thursday.

“I’ve had the distinct honor to work with a number of outstanding legislators who have worked tirelessly to move Indiana forward. Although I will miss the Statehouse, I look forward to pursuing new opportunities, spending more time with family, playing a bit more golf and relaxing with a good book. I leave knowing that I did my job and made a difference in my community.”

Grooms’ departure is yet another development for the 2022 election and Southern Indiana representation.

Based on redistricting approved earlier this month, District 46 will be shuffled north after 2022. Most of Floyd County, which was part of District 46 along with Jeffersonville, will move to District 47. Republicans Kevin Boehnlein and Shawn Carruthers had announced their candidacies for the District 46 race prior to redistricting, but the new maps put them in District 47, which is represented by Republican Sen. Erin Houchin.

Houchin and Boehnlein have confirmed they’ll run for the District 47 Senate seat, setting up a Republican primary. Carruthers, who is president of the Floyd County Commissioners, said Thursday he’s still considering running in the new district, which includes Washington County and Harrison County.

With one year remaining for Grooms’ term in the current District 46, the Indiana Republican Party will hold a caucus, likely to be next month, to replace him. Boehnlein, who was endorsed by Grooms as his replacement before redistricting, said Thursday he will seek the appointment. Carruthers said he will not and questioned whether Grooms’ departure and the forthcoming caucus are politically motivated.

“Sen. Grooms’ resignation comes as yet another surprise. I respect Ron’s service but I don’t think this was the best decision for our community,” Carruthers said.

“Voters are rightly suspicious of political favors and maneuvers like this and many see these caucuses as rigged. I share their concerns about this approach and I won’t be a candidate for the caucus election.”

While acknowledging his intent to seek the caucus appointment, Boehnlein focused most of his comments on Grooms’ career.

“We should all celebrate Senator Grooms’ service and sacrifice for the folks of Southern Indiana,” he said. “He will receive a much-deserved break from his official roles in government, while he carves out what role he will play going forward.”

As for the District 47 race, Boehnlein said the only thing that has changed is the geography. He said he spent time Thursday in Salem, Borden and Floyd County, and is pushing forward with his campaign.

District 46, through 2022, represents Floyd County and Jeffersonville. Both Floyd County and Clark County designees will have a say in who replaces Grooms.

Grooms served on the Jeffersonville City Council for eight years before winning his Senate seat in 2010. State Republicans recognized his tenure Thursday by referencing multiple pieces of legislation that Grooms was involved in or sponsored, including Senate Enrolled Act 246. The measure was passed in 2013 and its focus was preventing overprescribing and abuse of controlled substances.

“Sen. Grooms has been a thoughtful leader on a variety of issues during his tenure in the Senate,” said Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville. “We appreciate his service and the valuable expertise he has lent to our caucus and the Senate at large, and wish him well in this next chapter of his life.”

Jeff Firkins, chair of the Floyd County Republican Party, said Grooms’ service was “greatly appreciated” in the community.

“He has been an outstanding Senator who truly made informed, thought-out decisions for our community and the state of Indiana,” Firkins said. “The Floyd County Republican Party wishes Ron happiness in his retirement.”

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