By Zach Osowski
Former U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks and former GOP leader Luke Messer won closely watched Republican primaries in the state's 5th and 6th Congressional districts Tuesday and are expected to win easily in November.
Meanwhile, incumbent Republican Rep. Larry Bucshon defeated a feisty challenger in the state's 8th District GOP primary and Carlos May pulled out a win in the 7th District primary and will now take on incumbent Rep. Andre Carson, a Democrat.
An official endorsement by the Republican Party and Gov. Mitch Daniels was enough to push Messer to victory and give him the GOP nomination for the seat currently held by gubernatorial hopeful Mike Pence.
Only 90 minutes after the final polls closed, Messer's lead was big enough for The Associated Press to call the race. Messer took 40 percent of the vote. His closest competitor was Travis Hankins, a real estate developer in Columbus, who came in second with 29 percent of the vote.
Messer will move on to face Democrat Bradley Bookout, who also won Tuesday night despite a crowded Democratic field. The 6th District is decidedly Republican and Messer is expected to win the general election.
"This is really going to be an uphill fight for any Democrat in this district," said William Kubik, a political science professor from Hanover College. "Obama is particularly unpopular here and this is going to be a Republican year."
Kubik said that he was mildly surprised by Messer's win because he'd spent little time in the southern counties of Indiana.
In the 5th District, Brooks eked out a win over former congressman David McIntosh to gain the GOP nomination. Brooks will now take on state Rep. Scott Reske, who won the Democratic primary over Tony Long. But the district is heavily Republican and the race will likely be tough for Reske to win.
Brooks finished the eight-way contest with 30 percent of the vote. McIntosh had 29 percent, physician John McGoff had 23 percent and Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold had 11 percent. The other candidates finished in single digits.
Brooks said the results mean "a new day" for the 5th District
"Our message of jobs and getting people back to work, the economy and reducing the debt and wasteful spending, national security, and restoring confidence in Congress carried the day," Brooks said. ""I will continue to drive those issues home and continued to listen to the voters. And I commit to listening to those voters who backed my opponents."
It was a busy night elsewhere in Indiana as all of the state's congressional districts had a primary in at least one of the parties. Indiana's 1st District still did not know who its Republican choice would be at 10:30 p.m. With 92 percent of the precincts in, Joel Phelps had a sizable lead over his opponent Dave Wenger. The winner will face incumbent Congressman Pete Visclosky in November.
In Indiana's 2nd District, Jackie Walorski defeated Greg Andrews for the Republican ticket and Bendan Mullen beat out Dan Morrison for the Democratic spot.
Democrat Kevin Boyd beat five other candidates handily to win the right to face Republican Rep. Marlin Stutzman in Indiana's 3rd District.
In the 4th District, Tara Nelson won the Democratic race against Lester Moore by almost 20 percentage points. Nelson will face incumbent Rep. Todd Rokita in November's general election.
In the 7th District, May finished with 33 percent of the vote in the five-way race, according to the Secretary of State's office. Cat Ping finished second with 30 percent of the vote. The winner will face Carson, who cruised to victory over three other challengers.
Buschon beat challenger Kristi Risk in the GOP race for the 8th District. His opponent in November will be David Crooks, who beat Thomas Barnett and William Bryk in the Democratic primary.
Republican Todd Young, who ran unopposed in Indiana's 9th District, will have to beat Democratic Shelli Yoder if he wants to return to Washington. Yoder won her party's primary easily despite running against four other opponents.
Zach Osowski is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.
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