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Indiana Legislative Update – The Votes are In

Hoosiers went to the polls yesterday (and for early voting the past few weeks) and cast their votes for candidates that will now compete for each party in the November election. As we report below, know that each party can still name someone as a candidate until mid-July if they did not have any candidates on the primary ballot. Additionally, the state parties will hold their state conventions in June, where delegates will name the candidates for Lt. Governor and Attorney General. 

For now, though, we know many of the matchups for key races in November. Starting with Governor, shortly after the polls closed in the Central Time Zone, AP announced Mike Braun as the winner of the 6-way race for the GOP ballot. While he had been polling as the frontrunner, all the candidates were working voters until the last minute to try to take the lead. In the end, Mike Braun prevailed with 39.5% of the vote with Crouch coming in second with 21.7%, followed by Chambers (17.5%), Doden (11.9%), and newcomer Jamie Reitenour (4.8%) edging out former Attorney General Curtis Hill (4.6%). Braun will face former GOP Secretary of Education Jennifer McCormick – now running as a Democrat – in the fall. 

Two democrats were vying for the chance to run for US Senate: former State Representative (1986-1991)-turned-lobbyist Marc Carmichael and political newcomer and clinical psychologist Valerie McCray. McCray earned 68% of the vote and will face off with GOP candidate and current Congressman, Jim Banks (was unchallenged in the primary), in November. 

Indiana had several competitive races for Congressional seats, esp. after 3 incumbents did not run for re-election. 

  • CD #3: With 98% of the votes counted, despite a 4th quarter avalanche of attack ads, Marlin Stutzman wrestled a win from Tim Smith 24.2% to 22.6%, with former Allen County judge Wendy Davis earning 19.4% of the vote and Sen Andy Zay coming in 4th with 16.4%. Stutzman returns to the NE IN Congressional seat he last held in 2017. 
  • CD #5: After announcing that she would not run for re-election and luring several candidates into the GOP primary, including State Rep. Chuck Goodrich, Congresswoman Victoria Spartz reversed course early this year and stayed in the race that turned quite contentious. Voters rewarded her decision by giving her the victory with 39.1% of the vote with Goodrich coming in second at 33.2%. This is a strong GOP seat covering the suburbs NE of Indianapolis. 
  • CD #6: When Greg Pence announced he would not run for re-election, three strong candidates emerged including 2023 Indy Mayoral candidate Jefferson Shreve and current State Rep Mike Speedy – both using some of their own funds to support their campaigns. Shreve came out victorious in the 3-way race with 28.4% of the vote. 
  • CD #8: Similar to the 6th, Larry Bucshon’s decision to not run for reelection created an 8-person race where State Senator Mark Messmer and former Congressman John Hostettler went into election day as frontrunners. Messmer received a surprising 38.5% of the vote with Hostettler coming in a distant second with 19.6%; Messmer will face DEM Erik Hurt in November. 

While there were several challenges to incumbents in the Statehouse, it appears that only 2 sitting legislators lost a primary battle. State Rep Sharon Negele (R-Attica) – the highest-ranking woman in the House GOP caucus – lost to Warren County Council member Matthew Commons; Commons earned 60% of the vote. And, recently sworn in State Senator David Vinzant who was selected by caucus January 3rd to replace State Senator Eddie Melton (now Mayor of Gary) lost his primary challenge to Mark Spencer, Director of Fine Arts for the Gary School Corporation. 

While, often controversial State Rep Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) lost his home county, he was able to pull off a victory over challenger Brian Savilla. Lucas will face off against DEM Trish Whitcomb, daughter of former Republican Governor Edgar Whitcomb (1969-73) in November. And current Rep Bruce Borders (R-Jasonville) earned 38% of the vote to beat back Kellie Streeter (34%) and former State Rep Jeff Ellington (27%). Finally, for the Colts fans, former punter Hunter Smith earned the GOP nomination in House District 24 currently held by Donna Schaibley who did not run for re-election. 

In our Evansville region, Warrick County had the most contested primary races, seemingly triggered by a cascade of candidate filings after felony charges were filed against the current County Commissioners in February. In those contested races:

  • County Commission District 1: Current Coroner Sarah Millis-Seaton earned 42% of the vote to defeat incumbent Dan Saylor and former County Council member Richard Reid
  • County Commission District 3: Stacey Franz earned 55% of the votes to defeat incumbent Robert Johnson and newcomer Steve Spinks
  • County Council At Large: Ron Bacon (incumbent), current County Recorder Patricia Brooks, and Brad Overton (incumbent) were the top vote-getters to earn the 3 GOP nominations 
  • Circuit Court Clerk: Mike Wilson defeated three other candidates with 39% of the votes
  • Coroner: Alissa (Salee) Enright (niece of the very proud RPA team member, Sally Rideout) earned 65% of the votes as she defeated two other candidates
  • Surveyor: Dennis Wilzbacher defeated Jason Baxter, son of the current Surveyor, with 53% of the vote

While Vanderburgh County only had 1 contested primary, it was a big one with political newcomer Amy Canterbury earning nearly 53% of the vote to defeat long-time office holder Cheryl Musgrave for the District 3 Commissioner GOP nomination. 

And while the race wasn’t contested, it is now confirmed that current City Councilman Alex Burton, will be the DEM nominee to replace current State Representative Ryan Hatfield who is running for Judge. 

Contested races in Gibson County included:

  • Commissioner District 2: Ken Montgomery (GOP) won against Freudenberg and Cooper
  • Commissioner District 3: Incumbent Warren Fleetwood (DEM) defeated Chris Shade and will face Chuck Lewis (GOP) in November
  • County Coroner: Barrett Doyle defeated Jay Harbison
  • County Council: Derek McGraw (Incumbent), Craig Shafer), and Mike Stillwell (Incumbent) won the 3 GOP slots for County Council at Large

And, in Posey County, there were 4 candidates vying for the 3 GOP Council At Large nominations. Dave Pearce, Heather Allyn, and Rusty Jourdan were victorious. 

Legislative leaders meet next Tuesday to finalize the Interim Study Committee agenda for the summer. We’ll have a report on that and any topics of interest to you next week. 

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