By The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS — A longtime Republican state senator is entering the race to challenge Democratic Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.
Sen. Jim Merritt announced his campaign Thursday, saying the city needs to more aggressively attack problems with crime, low morale among police officers and homelessness.
Merritt was first elected in 1990 to the state Senate, where he is the utilities committee chairman. He has sponsored expanding Indiana's needle-exchange programs for intravenous drug users and the state lifeline law, which encourages underage drinkers to seek medical help for others who are dangerously intoxicated.
He narrowly won Senate re-election in November, losing the portions of his district that are in Indianapolis, while winning in suburban Fishers.
Hogsett was elected mayor in 2015 and formally launched his re-election campaign last month. The mayoral election is in November.