Indiana Primary Previews
US Senate (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Incumbent Joe Donnelly is unopposed.
Candidates: Luke Messer, Todd Rokita, Mike Braun
Overview: In a primary that could prove extremely important to Senator Joe Donnelly’s re-election chances, conservative businessman (and former state representative until he resigned to run for Senate) Mike Braun is the favorite against US Reps Todd Rokita and Luke Messer. The race was largely seen as between Rokita and Messer until some polls (not too many public, though, so be careful) showed Braun surging ahead of the two. Braun is seen as the “outsider” of the race, whereas Rokita and Messer are seen as the more establishment favorites. This dynamic provides an opening for Braun to have the more tea party-esc vote coalesce him while the more party-line conservative vote is split between Messer and Rokita. However, this isn’t nearly in the bag for Braun. Messer and Rokita have much larger consistuencies as US Representatives than he did as a state Rep, which’ll help them with base support in their respective areas. He also has lower name recognition due than the two. Regardless, if all goes as predicted, which it may not, Braun should get the nomination.
Prediction: Braun beats Rokita by 8 points, with Messer in third.
Indiana’s 1st Congressional District (Democrat defense, incumbent running)
Democratic Primary Candidates: Pete Visclosky (incumbent), Larry Chubb, Tony Daggett Sr.
Republican Primary Candidates: John Meyer, Jeremy Belko, David Dopp, Roseann Ivanovich, Mark Leyva, Nicolas Pappas
District Info: Indiana’s 1st Congressional District, as it has for decades, is comprised of the northwest corner of the state. It includes two complete counties (Lake and Porter) and a western slice of LaPorte county. It is heavily urban (87%), lies within the Chicago metropolitan area, and is anchored by the city of Gary. Three quarters of its inhabitants are white, about one fifth are black, and one in ten is Hispanic. It’s most worked industry is manufacturing, and the unemployment rate is well above the national average (6.8%). It is ranked as a D +8 by Cook PVI, and has been represented by Democrat Pete Visclosky since 1985. A Republican has not held office in the 1st in over 85 years.
Election Overview: Yes, it is true that two counties in Indiana’s 1st went to Trump in 2016 after going to Obama twice (Porter and LaPorte), the problem is they weren’t the county that mattered (Lake). Almost seventy percent of the residents of Indiana’s 1st dwell within deep blue Lake County, and that has helped keep the district in Democratic control for nearly a century now. Visclosky will cruise to a primary victory and Leyva will probably do so for the Republicans on name recognition alone (He has run for the seat seven times since 2002). Looking ahead to the general, it appears Visclosky will be elected to his eighteenth term.
Indiana 2nd Congressional District (Republican defense, incumbent running)
Democratic Primary Candidates: Douglas Carpenter, Pat Hackett, Mel Hall, Yatish Joshi, Roland Leech, John Petroff
Republicans Primary Candidates: Jackie Walorski (incumbent), Mark Summe
District Info: Indiana’s 2nd is crowned by the city of South Bend in St. Joseph’s County, home of the University of Notre Dame. To the east is Elkhart County, which has nearly 200,000 residents to itself. The district stretches south into more rural areas and is about 3,700 square miles. It contains eight complete counties and parts of two others. It is over 80% white and has a heavy manufacturing presence. Unemployment is 7%. Incumbent Jackie Walorski has represented the district since 2013 after Joe Donnelly left for the U.S. Senate. Donnelly was elected to three terms from the 2nd district. The Cook PVI is R +11.
Election Overview: Despite being represented by Donnelly fairly recently, the 2nd is currently viewed as a comfortably Republican district. Walorski should win her primary overwhelmingly. The Democrat side however, is not so simple. Frontrunner Mel Hall, a farmer and minister, faces noteworthy opposition from business leader Yatish Joshi and lawyer Pat Hackett. In the end though, Hall’s nice haul of over $800k should be enough to put him over the top. Whomever the Democrat nominee is, they will need a true “Rudy” story to compete closely and win this November.
Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District (Republican defense, incumbent running)
Democratic Primary Canddiates: John Roberson, Tommy Schrader, Cortney Tritch
Republicans Primary Candidates: Jim Banks (incumbent)
District Info: Whereas Indiana’s 1st Congressional District is the northwest corner of the state, Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District is the Hoosier State’s northeast corner. The overwhelming influence of this district is Fort Wayne and Allen County, which contain over a quarter million and over 350,000 people respectively. The district contains ten complete counties and parts of two others, and like most of northern Indiana has a heavy reliance on manufacturing. It is well over 80% white. Despite Fort Wayne, it is currently a reliable GOP district, last electing a Democrat in 2002. Current Congressman and veteran Jim Banks garnered over 70% of the vote in 2016 against a Democrat and Libertarian. Banks ran for the first time as then-incumbent Marlin Stutzman attempted to run for the U.S. Senate, but he lost to Todd Young in the GOP primary.
Election Overview: Though a freshman Congressman in a potential wave year, Jim Banks is fortunate to have a very friendly Republican district. Uncontested in his primary, Banks will almost certainly face community planner Courtney Tritch in the general election, providing she can get past loveable 2016 Democrat candidate Tommy Schrader. Banks is pretty much safe regardless of this primary and in the general.
Indiana’s 4th Congressional District (Republican defense, incumbent not running)
Democratic Primary Candidates: Tobi Beck, Roger Day, Darin Griesey, Roland Ellis, Joe Mackey, and Veronikka Ziol
Republican Primary Candidates: State Rep. Jim Baird, Steve Braun, Kevin Grant, Diego Morales, James Nease, Tim Radice, and Jared Thomas
District Info: In the center of the district sit the college town of West Lafayette, home of the University of Purdue Boilermakers, and its twin Lafayette, separated by the Wabash River. Tippecanoe County, where these cities reside, contains over 175,000 people. The district spreads to rural areas west to the Illinois border and north to the borders of districts 1 and 2. Due east the 4th goes and cuts a sizeable chunk out of populous Howard County including Kokomo. To the south and east, the district stretches to the populated communities outside Indianapolis in Hendricks County, which contains nearly 150,000 people. The district is overwhelmingly white (~90%), about 70% rural and 30% urban, contains thirteen whole counties and parts of three others, has major work sectors of manufacturing, healthcare, and education, and has a Cook PVI of R +17. The district, formerly represented by famous Indiana Dans Coats and Quayle, was last represented by a Democrat in 1995. Congressman Todd Rokita, currently running for the U.S. Senate, was consistently elected with over 60% of the vote since taking office in 2010.
Election Overview: The saying goes that “three’s a crowd”. If it is than I have no idea what to call this. With Rokita’s departure, each party has fielded about half a dozen candidates in a scramble for the seat. On the Democrat side, no candidate has much money, but Beck has the most at $36,000. It’s essentially a two horse race between her and Mackey, and she is the favorite. The Republican primary in the 4th is fascinatingly similar to the Indiana U.S. Senate primary. It’s not quite as nasty, but it’s just as messy. There are three major contenders: Veteran and former Pence aide Diego Morales, State House member Jim Baird who represents the most southern part of the 4th district, and businessman Steve Braun. Steve, like his brother Mike running for Senate, has amassed nearly a million dollars for his campaign and has spent almost all of it thus far. Diego Morales and Baird have also raked in cash and have over $550,000 and $200,000 respectively. Braun is the favorite, but is by no means the clear-cut leader, and one should prepare for a very fractured primary result.
Indiana’s 5th Congressional District (Republican defense, incumbent running)
Democratic Candidates: Dion Douglas, Sean Dugdale, Eshel Faraggi, Kyle Brendan Moore, Dee Thornton
Republican Candidate: Susan Brooks (incumbent)
District Info: The bottom of the 5th District is the northern chunk of Indianapolis and Marion County. The district continues north and encompasses all northern suburbs of the city including Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville in Hamilton County which contains over 280,000 people. It then continues to stretch widely, including the city of Anderson, to the north and east for over fifty miles out of the suburbs across rural areas to the city of Marion, where it juts out to the east and annexes a couple of other small communities. The district is relatively affluent, overwhelmingly white (~84%), and has larger than average financial, professional, and management sectors. It contains four complete counties and parts of four others. The Cook PVI for the district is R +9, and it has been represented by Republican Susan Brooks since 2013. It was last represented by a Democrat in 1993, and went to Donald Trump by 12% in 2016.
Election Overview: Well the Republican incumbent is unopposed, which makes that side of the coin easy. On the Democrats side, despite raising less than $20,000 (the most of the Democrat field), former Xerox executive Dee Thornton seems in line to capture the nomination of her party. Kyle Moore is intriguing, but it seems to be Thornton’s primary to lose. Looking ahead to the general, despite being a suburban anchored district in a possible “blue wave” year, the cash reserves of the incumbent (over $1.5 million) and the obscurity of the opposition should keep this seat in GOP hands.
Indiana’s 6th Congressional District (Republican defense, incumbent not running)
Democratic Primary Candidates: George Holland, K. Lave, Jeannine Lee Lake, Jim Pruett, Lane Siekman, Joshua Williamson
Republican Primary Candidates: Mike Campbell, Jonathan Lamb, Stephen McKenzie, Greg Pence, Jeff Smith
Election Overview: This seat opened up upon Luke Messer’s run for US Senate, and two strong Republican candidates have jumped into the race for this R+18 seat. The most notable of these two candidates in Greg Pence, who is in fact the brother of Vice President Mike Pence, previously Governor of Indiana. As a result, Pence is very likely to win this seat, given his close relation to one of the most popular figures among Republicans in the state. He hasn’t done all that much campaigning however, which has created an opportunity for businessman Jonathan Lamb, who is self-funding his campaign to the tune of $800,000 to pull off an upset. That being said, Mike Pence’s brother will always be tough to beat in a race like this. With six candidates running in what will probably be a lower turnout Democratic primary, anything could happen. However, Lane Siekman and George Holland will carry slight advantages, having carried significant support in failed primary attempts in the past, giving them something to build off of.
Indiana’s 7th Congressional District (Democratic defense, incumbent running)
Democratic Primary Candidates: Andre Carson (incumbent), Sue Spicer, Curtis Godfrey, Bob Kern, Pierre Quincy Pullins
Republican Primary Candidates: John Couch, Jason Davis, Donald Eason Jr., J.D. Miniear, Wayne Harmon, Tony Van Pelt
Election Overview: A very large number of candidates are running for this Indianapolis seat, which shouldn’t actually be very competitive. On the Democratic side, Incumbent Andre Carson typically faces a large number of primary challengers, but never receives below 80% of the vote, so that primary won’t at all be competitive. On the Republican side, pretty much anyone could win such an open race, but Wayne Harmon and J.D. Miniear have a leg up from having run in the past.
Indiana’s 8th Congressional District (Republican defense, incumbent running)
Democratic Primary Candidate: William Tanoos
Republican Primary Candidates: Larry Bucshon (Incumbent), Rachel Covington, Richard Moss
Election Overview: Another very straightforward primary here. Incumbent Larry Bucshon is likely to advance, although is worth noting that he only beat Richard Moss 65–35 last cycle. Moss is running again, but will likely be hurt by a third candidate in Rachel Covington who take some support from him. William Tanoos is unopposed on the Republican side.
Indiana’s 9th Congressional District (Republican defense, incumbent running)
Democratic Primary: Daniel Canon, Rob Chatlos, Liz Watson,
Republican Primary: Trey Hollingsworth (incumbent), James Dean Alspach
Overview: Only one race seems likely to be close from these two primaries, and that is the Democratic Primary. Liz Watson, a congressional staffer, is the minor favorite against attorney Daniel Canon, as she has more establishment backing. That being said, either one could win the primary and be a strong general election candidate. On the Republican side, incumbent Trey Hollingsworth isn’t incredibly popular but isn’t facing a strong enough campaign to be vulnerable.
Special thanks to Matthew Carlson (@marinerfanmatt) and Chris Luongo (@politicsluo) for helping with US House Districts 1–5 and the Senate primary, respectively