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Spartz renominated as Indiana also picks nominees for open seats

Former Rep. Hostettler loses bid for comeback after AIPAC-funded attacks

Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., won the nomination for another term Tuesday after initially saying she did not want to seek reelection.
Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., won the nomination for another term Tuesday after initially saying she did not want to seek reelection. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Indiana is poised for a major political shuffle after Tuesday’s primaries, when Republican voters selected nominees for open House seats in solid red districts while also standing by two-term Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz, who faced a bitter and expensive challenge.

Republicans in the Hoosier State also backed Sen. Mike Braun for governor. Rep. Jim Banks ran uncontested for the GOP nomination to the Senate seat that Braun will vacate in January. Braun will face Democrat Jennifer McCormick, the former state superintendent of public instruction, and Banks will run against Democrat Valerie McCray, a clinical psychologist.

One race isn’t finished. The top vote-getter in the GOP primary in the heavily Democratic 7th District, Jennifer Pace, died in March, after the deadline to remove her name from the ballot. Pace, who was an art director from Indianapolis, was declared the winner at 11:05 a.m. on Wednesday, with 31 percent of the vote. Republicans will now choose a nominee at a caucus. Retired Army Lt. Col. Catherine Ping received almost 30 percent of the vote and retired postal worker Philip Davis  about 25 percent, according to The Associated Press.

The seat is held by Rep. André Carson, who won the Democratic nomination with 91 percent of the vote.

Here’s a look at some of the other key results:

1st District

In the 1st District race, which Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates as Likely Democratic, Lake County Councilman Randy Niemeyer beat two other Republicans and will take on Democratic Rep. Frank J. Mrvan in November. Niemeyer had 61 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race at 8:21 p.m.  Eastern time.

3rd District

In the GOP race to succeed Banks, former Rep. Marlin Stutzman defeated seven other Republicans, including former Allen County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Davis, state Sen. Andy Zay and Tim Smith, who retired from a major medical malpractice insurance firm to lead a Christian nonprofit organization.

The former congressman had 24.2 percent of the vote when the AP called the race at 9:28 p.m. Eastern time. Smith, who loaned his campaign more than $1 million, was running second and Davis was third.

Stutzman, who represented the 3rd District for three terms before giving up the seat for an unsuccessful Senate run, was the target of outside groups that spent heavily to defeat him. But he also had support from other groups, including the House Freedom Fund, the political action committee of the House Freedom Caucus.

Stutzman will face Democrat Kiley M. Adolph, a global consultant, in November. The race is rated Solid Republican.

5th District

Spartz, who reversed a decision to retire just days before the filing deadline, won the nomination for a third term against eight other Republicans. 

Spartz had 39 percent of the vote when the AP called the race at 8:29 p.m. Eastern time. Chuck Goodrich, a state lawmaker and the CEO of a construction company, was running second, while former House staffer Max Engling was third.

Spartz was outraised by several of her GOP opponents, including Goodrich, who largely bankrolled his campaign with $4.6 million from his own pocket. Goodrich funded a blitz of negative ads criticizing Spartz for failing to take a tough stance on crime and accusing her of bullying her staff. Spartz, the only member of Congress born in Ukraine, pushed back, attacking Goodrich for being soft on China.

Spartz will compete against Democrat Deborah A. Pickett, a community volunteer and former Army reservist, in November. The race is rated Solid Republican.

6th District

Jefferson Shreve, the founder of a self-storage company who invested $5.6 million into the race, won the GOP primary for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Rep. Greg Pence, the brother of former Vice President Mike Pence.

Shreve had 28 percent of the vote when the AP called the race at 8:48 p.m. Eastern time.

Shreve beat several other Republicans who had also opened their wallets, including state Rep. Mike Speedy and RV industry consultant Jamison Carrier. Shreve, who spent more than $13 million of his own money on an unsuccessful bid to become mayor of Indianapolis, will face Democrat Cynthia (Cinde) Wirth in November. The race is rated Solid Republican.

8th District

State Sen. Mark Messmer beat former Rep. John Hostettler and six other Republicans for the nomination to succeed retiring Rep. Larry Bucshon.

Messmer had 40 percent of the vote when the AP called the race at 7:49 Eastern time. Hostettler was running second with 17 percent, followed by cancer surgeon Richard Moss with 15 percent and Dominick Kavanaugh, who worked as a White House intern when Donald Trump was president, with 12 percent.

Outside groups dumped $5.6 million into the race, and support for Israel became a flash point. Almost half of the $2 million spent supporting Messmer came from the RJC Victory Fund, which is affiliated with the Republican Jewish Coalition. 

Meanwhile, United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, funded an anti-Hostettler ad, calling him “one of the most anti-Israel politicians in America.” 

After the race was called, the AIPAC-aligned super PAC issued a statement congratulating Messmer and said his win “demonstrates again that support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is both good policy and good politics.” Messmer will face Democrat Erik Hurt in November. The race is rated Solid Republican.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to his report.

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