INDIANAPOLIS – With the primaries right around the corner, IN Focus is your local election headquarters for complete coverage on May 3rd. We’re previewing all of the key races, including the open seat for Indiana’s 9th congressional district.
Some voters may notice they are in an entirely different district this time around. This is due to the redistricting process that was approved in 2021. Marion County and parts of Central Indiana are some of the most affected areas where boundaries have changed.
Although the map has changed, political experts say it doesn’t much affect the competitiveness of each district. Some say Indiana’s map is gerrymandered, meaning Indiana’s congressional delegation will likely keep the same political makeup with seven republicans and two democrats.
“When you have districts that aren’t competitive in the general election, that means probably whoever wins the primary will be the victorious one in November,” said Julia Vaughn, executive director for the nonpartisan Common Cause Indiana.
Experts say the most competitive race is for the 9th district. Congressman Trey Hollingsworth (R) is not running for reelection, and many hopefuls are looking to fill his seat. Nine Republicans and two democrats are running in their respective primaries, leading to an extremely crowded field.
“Because the primaries are selecting the party’s candidates, this is where we see a lot of the competition in Indiana,” said U-Indy political science professor Dr. Laura Wilson. “And that’s a really wide district that has different voters across it.”
Looking across Indiana, there’s also a potentially close race brewing in Indiana’s first district, where Rep. Frank Mrvan (D) is being targeted by Republicans in the November midterm elections.
Meanwhile, the state’s second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth districts are all considered safely Republican. All of those incumbents are expected to be reelected in November.
Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Republicans are hoping to keep the long-held 9th district seat. Indiana GOP State Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer said his party is knocking on doors and finding out what voters care about every day.
“We’v done this for multiple cycles in a row and it’s what’s led the Republican party to be so dominant in this state,” Hupfer said.
On the other side, Mike Schmuhl, State Party Chair for the Indiana Democrats, says that his party hopes to hold the GOP accountable.
“Republicans have been in charge in Indiana for 18 years now, and I think their track record is pretty mixed,” Schmuhl said.
One of the leading issues in this election cycle is the conflict in Ukraine, and numerous candidates for the 9th district have also commented on the subsequent spike in oil and gas prices. Former State Senator Erin Houchin says she wants to see more domestic energy projects, like restarting the Keystone XL Pipeline.
“We also need to be utilizing our own energy resources,” Houchin said.
Some candidates, like Stu Barnes-Israel (R) say they’re using their combat experiences to guide their decisions in Congress. He wants to focus on America’s military, especially after the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
“It’s important that America stands up and is strong around the world and shows strength,” Barnes-Israel said. “Otherwise, these threats will come to our shores.”
Meanwhile, IN Focus recently sat down with Republican candidate J. Davisson. He described how he’s balanced the campaign trail while still serving in the General Assembly.
“I was taught to finish what you start, and my constituents have entrusted me to represent them in the Indiana General Assembly, and I have done that every single day,” Davisson said.
Those comments drew a response from Erin Houchin, who resigned from the Indiana Senate this year to focus on her campaign for Congress.
“I think the fight is that important, that we have to be all in toward taking the fight to Washington [and] winning this election,” Houchin said.
Watch more of the IN Focus May primary preview in the video above.