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State Rep. Ragen Hatcher, D-Gary

State Rep. Ragen Hatcher, D-Gary

GARY — A major political shakeup in Gary and Lake County appears to be imminent due to the decision of state Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, to run next year for Indiana governor, instead of seeking reelection in Senate District 3.

Already Darnail Lyles, a Democratic attorney associated with presumptive Gary Mayor-elect Jerome Prince, has announced that he's running to succeed Melton in the Senate.

Reportedly, state Rep. Ragen Hatcher, D-Gary, also is considering not running for reelection to her House District 3 seat, and instead will continue her political career by trying to take Melton's place in the Senate.

Hatcher did not respond Friday to multiple telephone messages seeking comment on her political future.

In case Hatcher runs for the Senate, Calumet Township Board President Darren Washington declared Friday that he's forming an exploratory committee for a potential campaign for Hatcher's House seat.

Washington said if he is elected to the House, his goal would be to strengthen Hoosier families by enacting legislation that provides opportunities for a better quality of life in Indiana.

In 2016, Washington was defeated by Melton in the Democratic primary for Senate District 3. He also failed to win the party's nomination in the 2012 Senate primary.

This would be his first run for the House.

Washington is likely to be among several candidates vying to represent House District 3, which includes Gary's downtown and east side, Lake Station, New Chicago and Hobart, if Hatcher opts for a Senate bid.

Multiple additional candidates also are expected to run in Melton's Senate District 3 that contains portions of Gary, Lake Station, New Chicago, Hobart, Merrillville and Crown Point.

Filing for the legislative seats begins Jan. 8, 2020. The deadline to submit a candidacy is Feb. 7 to run in the May 5 primary election.

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