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In Indiana, State GOP Fends Off Insurgency From the Right

May 4, 2022 by Dan McCue
In Indiana, State GOP Fends Off Insurgency From the Right
Voters mark their ballots in the Indiana primary election among the display cases at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in Indianapolis, Tuesday, May 3, 2022. The site was the former home of Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States from 1889 to 1893. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

WASHINGTON — Overshadowed, perhaps, by higher profile and more hotly contested races in neighboring Ohio, the outcome of Tuesday’s primaries in Indiana were defined by moderates in the Republican-controlled state legislature holding off a challenge from their right.

About two dozen so-called “liberty” candidates ran this year on a platform that called for an abortion ban along the lines of the law passed in Texas last year, stronger protections for gun owners, and overturning what’s left of the COVID-19 mandates put in place by Gov. Eric Holcomb, also a Republican.

Throughout the campaign, Republican leaders in the legislature characterized that hardline stance as both unworkable and out of step with even most conservative Indianans.

Instead, they encouraged more mainstream members of their party to focus on state and local issues like keeping tax rates and unemployment low and preserving a private school voucher program that has proven highly popular.

Indiana jumped to the forefront of the school choice movement a decade ago when it passed one of the strongest school voucher laws in the country.

Initially intended to enable students in low- and middle-income families to receive vouchers to attend private schools, Republicans who hold supermajorities in both houses of the legislature voted last year to expand the program to nearly all middle-class families in the state.

In the end, only three liberty candidates prevailed Tuesday night, with one, Lorissa Sweet, a County Council member from rural northern Indiana, defeating a 10-term incumbent Rep. Dan Leonard, and two others winning nominations for GOP-leaning open seats.

In Indiana’s House races, Frank J. Mrvan, was the runaway winner in the Democratic primary for the state’s 1st Congressional District, garnering 86.4% of the vote with 95% of precincts reporting, to Richard Fantin’s 13.6%.

In the Republican primary in that district, pro-Trump candidate Jennifer-Ruth Green leads with 47.1% of the vote with 89% of precincts reporting, followed by Blair Milo, with 22.5% and Mark Leyva, with 13.4%.

In the 2nd Congressional District, Democrat Paul Steury was unopposed in his primary, as was Republican Jackie Walorski.

In the 3rd Congressional District, Democrat Gary Snyder won his contest with 64.2% of the vote, defeating Aaron (A.J.) Calkins, who received 19.0% of the vote, and Phillip Beachy, who garnered 16.8%. Meanwhile, Republican Jim Banks ran unopposed.

In the 4th Congressional District, Democrat Roger Day bested Howard J. Pollchik, 68.1% to 31.9%,, while Republican Jim Baird ran unopposed.

As for the 5th Congressional District, Democrat Jeannine Lake won her primary, outdistancing Matthew L. Hall, 57.5%-42.5%, while Republican Victoria Spartz ran unopposed.

In the Republican primary in Indiana’s 6th Congressional District, Greg Pence has prevailed by garnering 77.6% of the vote compared to challenger James Alspach’s 22.4%. About 10% of the vote in that district has yet to be counted.

As for the Democrats in the 6th Congressional District, Cynthia (Cinde) Wirth, defeated George Thomas Holland, 73.1% to 26.9%.

In the 7th Congressional District Andre Carson trounced his competition in the Democratic primary, receiving 93.8% of the vote, while Curtis D. Godfrey got 4.0% and Pierre Quincy Pullins, just 2.2%.

Meanwhile, Angela Grabovsky prevailed in the Republican primary in the 7th congressional district , receiving 55.2%, while Russell (Rusty) Scott Johnson got 15.6%, Bill Allen, 12.0%, Jennifer Pace 11.9%, and Gerald Walters, 5.4%.

In the 8th Congressional District, Ray McCormick bested all other Democrats, receiving 69.3% of the vote compared to Adnan H Dhahir’s 19.0% and Peter F.H. Priest’s 11.7%. Republican Larry Buchshon ran unopposed.

As for the Republican primary in Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, Erin Houchin received 37.3% of the vote, topping Mike Sodrel, who got 25.8% of the vote and Stu Barnes-Israel, who received 21.0%.

When it came to the U.S. Senate, both Democrat Thomas McDermott Jr, and Republican Todd Young, an incumbent, ran unopposed.

For updates, visit the Indiana Secretary of State election page here.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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