Republican Milo Smith successfully won a sixth consecutive term in the Indiana House to serve as one of Bartholomew County’s three state representatives.

The incumbent District 59 representative from Columbus won re-election against Democrat Bob Pitman, a first-time candidate for public office. Smith received 16,116 votes (61.2 percent) to Pitman’s 10,205 (38.8 percent).

District 59 represents western, southern, central and part of northern Bartholomew County.

Smith, 66, owner of a tax consulting business in Columbus, also won the five previous general elections for the District 59 seat comfortably. He said he was humbled and honored to win another two-year term.

While Smith said straight-party voting likely helped his victory margin, noting that the GOP presidential ticket of Donald Trump and Mike Pence is popular in southern Indiana, he added that his record probably resonated with voters.

“I have a record of helping people over the last 10 years and I think people remembered that,” Smith said. “I get a lot of pleasure out of helping people, and apparently my constituents know that.”

In the most recent session of the Indiana General Assembly, Smith served as chairman of the Elections and Apportionment Committee, a member of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee, and a member of the Select Committee on Government reduction.

His road to this year’s general election provided a challenge with Columbus engineer Ryan Lauer seeking a rematch from two years earlier and Bartholomew County Assessor Lew Wilson also entering the GOP primary.

However, Smith received 5,882 votes in the primary to defeat Ryan Lauer (4,825) and Wilson (1,745).

Pitman, 67, the retired executive director of Mill Race Center who has been a longtime advocate for Bartholomew County senior citizens, said he entered the election to call attention to injustices and lack of political commitment to the needs of lower-income Hoosiers and others overlooked by society.

Another reason Pitman said he sought office was he wanted the state’s growing number of older adults to be viewed as a valuable community resource.

Pitman said he thinks straight-ticket voting by Republicans played a role in the outcome of his race and others.

“I know when I entered the race, I wanted to highlight some issues of importance. I have no regrets about that. Whether the issues contributed to (Smith’s) victory, I doubt that. The trend was overwhelming,” Pitman said.

He defeated Columbus North High School math teacher Dale Nowlin in the Democratic primary, 2,472 votes to 2,117, to earn his party’s nomination.

Pitman said he was grateful for the experience and enjoyed running with a “wonderful ticket of Democrats.”

Running for elected office isn’t something Pitman said he expects to do again, although he wouldn’t definitively rule it out.

How you voted

State representative District 59

Milo Smith (R);16,116

Bob Pitman (D);10,205

Author photo
Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.