“Without question, jobs and growing the economy,” said Oliver, a first-time candidate.
When it comes to social issues, however, there is little common ground.
In an Indiana Right to Life questionnaire, Oliver — associate dean and education unit head at Indiana Wesleyan University and a former Muncie Community Schools administrator — indicated he felt abortion should never be legal, under any circumstances.
Errington is a retired Planned Parenthood official.
She cites her experience — both in community involvement over the past four decades and her earlier stints as a public official — that would allow her to “hit the ground running” in the Indiana House.
“I have served in the Indiana Senate,” she said. “I’ve worked with legislators on both sides of the aisle. ... As a senator, I was in the minority. If I wanted to get something done, which I did, I had to work with Republicans. So I look for issues where we can come together.”
While he hasn’t been a candidate before, Oliver said he didn’t believe “the real of public policy is new to me, per se.”
He spent two years on the Indiana Professional Standards Advisory Board.
“I always had an interest (in politics),” he said. “I made a commitment to be a dad first. I finally decided I have the credentials (and) the timing is right.”
Errington — unseated from her Senate District 26 seat by conservative Republican Doug Eckerty in 2010 — notes that she was that race’s leading vote-getter in the precincts that make up House District 34, which includes most of Center Township.
In May, she defeated two other candidates — including Dave Walker, strongly supported by the local Democratic Party’s central committee — to win her party’s nomination to the House seat.
While she shares a downtown headquarters with other nominees affiliated with the Team Democrat dissident wing of the party, Errington said she’s seen no evidence that mainstream Democratic activists are working for Oliver.The Republican, meanwhile, said support he could receive from “socially conservative Democrats” is the wild card in the District 34 race.
Democrat Dennis Tyler had represented the district for six years when he resigned from his House seat last January to become Muncie mayor. Veteran Democrat Mike White was appointed to serve the remainder of Tyler’s term, but White wasn’t a candidate in this year’s election cycle.
Republicans didn’t field a District 34 candidate in their party’s May primary. Oliver was appointed as nominee by GOP precinct committeemen in June.
Pledges to support economic development in the Muncie area, and to work to improve the state’s education system aren’t all this year’s House 34 nominees have in common.
Both have expressed concerns about a growing lack of civility in politics, and their own race has not been marked by personal attacks or accusations.
During the Delaware County Fair, both Oliver and Errington were upset when a punching bag bearing President Obama’s image was set up outside the GOP tent.
Oliver eventually left the fairgrounds with his supporters, not returning until the punching bag was gone.
“I don’t agree with our president’s views, but he is the president of the United States,” the Republican said. “I felt like I didn’t have any choice. ... I try to do the right things, and that’s what I’ll do at the Statehouse.”
Errington said her pursuit of civility could help stem the bitter partisanship that has disrupted recent House sessions.
“(That is) the way I go about things, in a calm manner... looking for ways to work with other people,” she said.