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US Senator Mike Braun wins Gubernatorial Primary Election; Other Notable Primary Election Outcomes

Posted May 28, 20245 min Read

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After a highly contentious primary race, US Senator Mike Braun won the Republican nomination for Governor last night over a field of six candidates. Braun led the field with 39.2% of the vote, followed by Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch with 21.9%, Brad Chambers with 17.6%, Eric Doden with 12.1%, Jamie Reitenour with 4.9%, and Curtis Hill with 4.2. This was the most expensive gubernatorial primary in Indiana’s history, with over $45 million collectively spent by the candidates in advertising. Senator Braun is strongly favored to prevail this Fall against former Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick, who was unopposed in her race for the Democratic nomination.

US Senate:
In contrast to the contentious Republican Governor’s race, sitting 3rd District Congressman Jim Banks was unopposed for the Republican US Senate nomination to succeed Senator Braun.  Egg farmer John Rust had announced a primary challenge to Banks but was not able to secure a spot on the ballot.  In November, Banks will face Dr. Valerie McCray, a psychologist who becomes the first African-American woman to be a nominee for the US Senate in Indiana history.  Dr. McCray defeated former State Representative Marc Carmichael by a 68.1% to 31.9% margin.

Congress:

3rd District
In what proved to be the closest Congressional race of the day, former Congressman Marlin Stutzman secured a victory in this eight-way race, prevailing with only 24.2% of the vote. Businessman Tim Smith placed second with 22.6%, while former judge Wendy Davis placed third with 19.4%, and State Senator Andy Zay placed fourth with 16.4% of the vote. Stutzman held the seat from 2010-2017 but chose to run for the US Senate seat eventually won by US Senator Todd Young instead of running for re-election.  Senator Zay will continue to serve in the Indiana General Assembly.

5th District
After announcing in February of 2023 that she would forego re-election, Congresswoman Victoria Spartz changed her mind days before the filing deadline and ultimately prevailed after an especially nasty primary campaign. She was victorious on Tuesday night with 39.1% of the vote. State Representative Chuck Goodrich came in second with 33.2%, followed by Max Engling with 9.7%.

6th District
Businessman and former Indianapolis mayoral candidate Jefferson Shreve won the Republican nomination for the sixth district, which is currently held by retiring Congressman Greg Pence. Shreve earned 28.4% of the vote, while State Representative Mike Speedy came in second with 22.1% of the vote and Greenwood businessman Jamison Carrier came in third place with 20.2% of the vote. State Senator Jeff Ratz earned 8.9% of the vote, but like Senator Zay, will continue to serve in the state legislature.

8th District
In an eight-way race to succeed Congressman Larry Buschon, State Senator Mark Messmer cleared the field with 38.7% of the vote. Former Congressman John Hostettler came in second in his bid to return to Congress with 19.5% of the vote. Messmer was the only sitting state legislator to be successful in his bid for Congress in the primary election.

November
Now that the primaries have concluded, it is likely that Indiana’s Congressional delegation will retain its same partisan makeup after the November election. The closest race in the state will be in Congressional District 1, where Congressman Frank Mrvan (D) will face another tight race, this time against Lake County Republican Party Chair Randy Niemeyer. This district is being targeted by the national parties as a key seat in the balance for power in the House, with both candidates working hard to raise money to compete in the expensive Chicago media market.

State Legislature:

On the Senate side of the Statehouse, incumbent Indianapolis Senator Mike Young rather easily fended off a challenge from newcomer Philip Clay by a margin of 64.9% to 35.1% in his district covering the West side of Indianapolis and extending into Plainfield. In South Bend, Sen. David Niezgodski (D) was already in a competitive race with St. Joseph County Treasurer Tim Swager when news of an alleged sexual harassment settlement paid to a former employee came to light in mid-April. Despite the negative press, Sen. Niezgodski defeated Swager 62.1% to 37.9%.

The only incumbent Senator to lose in the primary was Sen. David Vinzant in Lake County, who had just won the seat in a narrow caucus vote this past January to replace former Senator and current Gary Mayor Eddie Melton. His opponent in that caucus, Gary Councilman Mark Spencer, challenged Vinzant again in the primary, and Spencer was victorious by a 65.5% to 34.5% margin.

On the House side, incumbent Representatives also had a successful night overall with one notable exception. State Representative Sharon Negele (R-Attica), who served as Deputy Speaker Pro Tempore, was defeated by Warren County Councilman Matthew Commons 60.2% to 39.8% in a hard-fought race. State Representative Bruce Borders faced a three-way competition with former Representative Jeff Ellington and Knox County Commissioner Kellie Streeter, and at the time of this email Borders retains a slight lead over Streeter at 38.0% to 34.6%, with Ellington trailing at 27.4%. Finally, State Representative Jim Lucas prevailed in a tight race with former West Virginia House Delegate Brian Savilla by a margin of 55.1% to 44.9%.

In addition to these races featuring incumbents, there were some heavily contested open seat Republican House primaries.

  • House District 24 (Schaibley): Former Colts punter Hunter Smith defeated businessman Bill Gutrich 61.5% to 38.5%.
  • House District 29 (Goodrich): Alaina Shonkwiler prevailed with 59.2% of the vote over former Hamilton County Library Board Member Laura Alerding’s 40.8%.
  • House District 51 (Zent): Realtor Tony Isa defeated Dr. Rhonda Sharp in this Northeast Indiana race by a margin of 57.3% to 42.7%.
  • House District 53 (Cherry): Former Holcomb aide Ethan Lawson emerged victorious from a four-way field with 33.8% of the vote, followed by businessman Kevin Mandrell with 26.3%.
  • House District 90 (Speedy): In another four-way field, former deputy attorney general Andrew Ireland currently holds a slight lead over Elizabeth Williams by a margin of 40.5% to 39.0%.

All of the numbers are from the Indiana Election Division website.