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GARY — State Rep. Ragen Hatcher, D-Gary, will not run for reelection to her Indiana House seat in the hope of succeeding state Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, in the Senate.

The first-term lawmaker and former Gary City Councilwoman confirmed Thursday she is running next year in Senate District 3, which has no incumbent since Melton is seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for Indiana governor.

"My decision to run for state Senate is grounded in my desire to serve the great people of Northwest Indiana," Hatcher said. "As a Gary native, I have dedicated my life to serving the people of my community. As a state senator, I will continue to use my voice for the residents in District 3 and the state of Indiana."

The daughter of former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher, who led the Steel City from 1968 to 1988, already has the backing of Gary's current mayor for her Senate campaign.

"I am excited to support her candidacy for state Senate and know that she will distinguish herself in the tradition of Senators Earline Rogers and Eddie Melton," said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.

"Ragen Hatcher has a track record of being a strong voice for the citizens of Gary and Northwest Indiana. As an expert in tax policy and someone well versed in the judicial system, she understands how to shape Indiana law to ensure that it works for citizens, particularly those who have been historically disenfranchised."

Melton, who declined to endorse a successor when he announced his gubernatorial bid Oct. 8 in The Times, said Hatcher not only is qualified to serve in the Senate, but "has the ability to address the issues that impact the people and communities of Northwest Indiana."

"I have the utmost confidence that Representative Hatcher will continue to serve the citizens of Northwest Indiana in the Senate in the same positive manner she has served in the House," Melton said.

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

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.

Calumet Township Board President Darren Washington declared Oct. 18 that he's forming an exploratory committee to campaign for Hatcher's House District 3, which includes Gary's downtown and east side, Lake Station, New Chicago and Hobart.

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.

This article originally ran on nwitimes.com.

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