Huston, a 47-year-old Fishers Republican, was first elected in 2012 to represent District 37, which includes Fishers and other Hamilton County areas. He was re-elected in 2018 to his fourth term with 54.5% of the vote and has served as one of Bosma’s key lieutenants as deputy speaker pro tempore.
Many were surprised when Bosma chose to announce on Nov. 19, the legislature’s one-day organizational meeting, that he’ll be resigning as speaker and leaving the legislature next year. Speaking to reporters Monday with Huston by his side, Bosma said he had been advised not to make the announcement and proceed with a selection of a speaker-elect months before his exit because it could diffuse power.
But, Bosma said, his decision wasn’t about power but how best to serve the public. Choosing a speaker-elect months before the post becomes vacant – a highly unusual step – ensures a smooth transition of leadership as Huston learns the job he’ll take over.
“We tried to do this in the least disruptive way possible,” Bosma said.
The announcement was made in the House chamber shortly after House Republicans met behind closed doors to select Huston – a selection Bosma said was unanimous and by acclamation.
Bosma said Huston would bring “stability” to the position but would bring his “own views on issues and his own flair” to the position.
Huston said he is honored and humbled by his selection.
He has, he said, “huge shoes to fill and I am just going to do the best I can.”
Asked how his style would differ from Bosma’s, Huston said he doesn’t have Bosma’s lengthy legislature tenure and would perhaps rely more on caucus members’ input. And, he said, he believes in listening and reaching decisions based on data, not stories.
Huston, who holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Indiana University, is a senior vice president for state and district partnerships at The College Board, a non-profit that develops and administers standardized tests. In 2019, he served as co-chairman of the budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee. Bosma said he won’t have that role in 2020 as the chairman, Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, has recuperated from a serious motorcycle accident.
In a statement, Gov. Eric Holcomb called Huston “a home run pick for Indiana House Speaker.”
“He has proven himself a strong leader and has touched so many facets of state government through the budget process,” Holcomb said. “I look forward to working with him and Sen. Bray going forward.
Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, will be working closely with Huston as the leaders in the two parts of the General Assembly. In a statement, he called Huston “ a great choice” to succeed Bosma.
“Over the years I’ve worked with Todd, I have come to know him as a dedicated public servant with vision and integrity,” Bray said.
House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, said he he looks forward to working with Huston “in making sure that the House conducts a healthy and vigorous debate on the issues that concern Hoosiers across our state.”
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody, though, focused on the political implications of the win for Huston, who represents a suburban area that is trending more Democratic after being a GOP stronghold for decades. In the 2019 municipal elections, Zody noted in his statement, Democrats running for council seats got slightly more votes than Republicans.
“In ‘winning’ behind closed doors today, Rep. Huston just made his own reelection a tossup,”? Zody said. “There’s no winning when Speaker Huston’s decisions imperil Representative Huston’s electoral future.”
Huston, asked at the news conference about the changing political tide in suburban areas, dismissed the concern, saying that a presidential election year will bring out more voters and that the GOP will run aggressive campaigns.
Brandon Barger is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalists.