Earline Rogers

State Sen. Earline Rogers in the Senate Chamber before the Senate declined to reinstate a controversial second sentence to a proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. (Photo by AJ Mast)

AJ Mast, The Times

INDIANAPOLIS | State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, is not yet saying whether she plans to run for re-election next year, but a Merrillville Democrat is preparing to replace her in case she decides to retire.

Eddie Melton, a member of the State Board of Education, said Tuesday he filed paperwork forming an exploratory campaign committee for Indiana Senate District 3, which includes portions of Gary, Merrillville, Hobart, Crown Point, Lake Station and New Chicago.

"I highly respect Sen. Rogers and if she chooses to retire, I would like to build upon her stellar accomplishments as a state legislator," Melton said. "(This committee) will allow me to take the initial steps to build the campaign organization required to pursue Indiana's Senate District 3 seat if Sen. Rogers decides to retire."

Melton, who works as NIPSCO's manager of governmental and community relations, said his desire to run is rooted in his "passion for serving the great people of Northwest Indiana."

"As someone born and raised in Gary, I have committed my life's work to serve our Region and I believe this opportunity would allow me to be a voice for the residents in the Indiana General Assembly on paramount issues such as the current state of our local economy and education," Melton said.

Rogers, 80, has served in the Senate since 1990 and previously represented the Region in the House for eight years.

She said she expects to announce in the first week of January whether she will seek re-election.

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Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.