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5/13 Torchbearer Weekly Policy Update

Thank you for letting us be your trusted source for local, state, and federal policy updates. Indiana’s primary election was last Tuesday. Let’s dig in to the results and other newsworthy items from last week …


  • Braun Nabs Early Win in the Republican Primary for Governor


  • McCray Wins Democrat Nomination to Challenge Banks in Race for Indiana’s U.S. Senate Seat
  • U.S. House Race Roundup


  • Indiana Primary Election Costs Two Statehouse Incumbents


  • Indiana Election Results: Pike Township Schools Referendum Passes
  • Looking For More?
  • Indiana Professors Sue After GOP Legislators Pass Law Regulating Faculty Tenure
  • Share the Torchbearer Newsletter with Your Network!
  • Important Dates

Let’s dive in.

Braun Nabs Early Win in the Republican Primary for Governor


U.S. Sen. Mike Braun secured the Republican nomination for governor in Indiana, pledging to be an entrepreneurial and accessible leader for the state. Braun is expected to succeed Gov. Eric Holcomb in November.

Yes, but: Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Jennifer McCormick called the choice between her and Braun one of 'polarization and division' versus 'optimism and opportunity.' Braun received congratulations from his competitors and former President Donald Trump, highlighting the competitive nature of the race.

Why it matters: Braun's victory sets up a clear choice for Indiana voters in the upcoming gubernatorial election. His promises to prioritize entrepreneurship and accessibility appeal to a broad audience. The outcome of this race will determine the direction and policies of the state, impacting the economy, social issues, and governance moving forward. (Indiana Capital ChronicleIBJ)

McCray Wins Democrat Nomination to Challenge Banks in Race for Indiana’s U.S. Senate Seat


Dr. Valerie McCray, a Democrat, emerged victorious in the primary, becoming the first Black woman to be nominated for the U.S. Senate in Indiana.

Dig deeper: She emphasized her focus on mental health care, livable wages, and reproductive rights. McCray faces Republican Congressman Jim Banks in the general election, and together they will compete against Libertarian Andrew Horning. The race is to fill the seat vacated by Republican Mike Braun, who won the GOP nomination for Indiana's gubernatorial race. McCray's campaign intends to address abortion rights, immigration, and the Israeli-Palestinian issue if elected.

Why it matters: McCray's nomination is a historic milestone and reflects a potential for change in Indiana. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

U.S. House Race Roundup


1st Congressional District: Democrat Frank Mrvan, who ran unopposed in the primary, was still waiting late Tuesday to see his opponent in the General Election. Lake County councilman Randy Niemeyer has a sizable lead in the Republican primary, with about 60% of the vote, compared with Mark Leyva at 25%.

2nd Congressional District: U.S. Rep. Rudy Yakym, a Republican, will face political newcomer and Democrat Lori Camp in the General Election. Both candidates ran unopposed in the primary.

3rd Congressional District: Former 3rd District Rep. Marlin Stutzman won the Republican nomination with a close victory over Tim Smith, State Sen. Andy Zay, and Wendy Davis. He will face Democrat Kiley Adolph, who topped Phil Goss.

4th Congressional District: U.S. Rep. Jim Baird defeated Charles Bookwalter and John Piper to win the Republican primary. Baird, who took office in 2019, will face Democrat Derrick Holder, who beat Rimpi Girn.

5th Congressional District: U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz, the sitting incumbent who joined the race late after announcing in 2023 that she would retire, won the Republican primary with about 39% of the vote, topping Indiana Rep. Chuck Goodrich, who had about 33% of the vote. Spartz will face Democrat Deborah Pickett, who topped Ryan Pfenninger.

6th Congressional District: Just six months after an unsuccessful campaign for Indianapolis mayor, Jefferson Shreve won a crowded primary for the Republican nomination in Indiana’s 6th Congressional District. Shreve carried about 28% of the vote while Rep. Mike Speedy and Greenwood businessman Jamison Carrier each had about 22%. Democrat Cynthia Wirth, who lost to outgoing Rep. Greg Pence in the 2022 election, ran unopposed and will face Shreve.

7th Congressional District: U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, who has represented Indiana’s 7th Congressional District since 2008, will be seeking his ninth straight full term in the U.S. House in November. As of Sunday night, the Republican primary had Jennifer Pace ahead with 31% of the vote, slightly ahead of retired Army Lt. Catherine Ping with 30% with 98.5% of the vote counted. About 300 votes separated the two. According to The Indianapolis Star, Pace died in March after ballots were produced. Should she win, there will be a caucus to replace her name on the ballot.

8th Congressional District: State Sen. Mark Messmer topped a crowded field of eight in the Republican race to replace Rep. Larry Bucshon. He will face Democrat Erik Hurt, who beat Edward Upton Sein.

9th Congressional District: Incumbent U.S. Rep. Erin Houchin easily defeated challenger Hugh Doty. Democrat Timothy Peck, who defeated D. Liam Dorris, will be her opponent. (IBJIndiana Capital Chronicle)

Indiana Primary Election Costs Two Statehouse Incumbents

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The statehouse had some expected wins and some unexpected losses on Tuesday. All of Indiana’s House of Representatives were up for re-election and half of Indiana's state senate seats were up, largely dominated by incumbents running unopposed. The results highlight changes in leadership and potential shifts in policy priorities.


  • Rep. Sharon Negele, a five-term Republican incumbent, lost the GOP nomination to military veteran and high school teacher Matthew Commons, whose campaign promises include supporting rural Hoosiers’ autonomy and access to broadband, in addition to redirecting state tax dollars for teacher recruitment and retention.
  • Former Hobart City Councilman Sen. David Vinzant, sworn in on the first day of the 2024 legislative session, lost his primary race to Mark Spencer. Vinzant narrowly won in a January Democratic caucus vote over Spencer, a teacher and Gary councilman, to succeed Eddie Melton. Melton left the Senate after winning Gary’s mayoral race in late 2023.
  • Republican incumbent Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) narrowly beat off challenger Brian Savilla following legal troubles last summer.
  • Embattled Sen. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis) held out over his challenger, first-time Republican candidate Phillip Clay.
  • Sen. Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores succeeded over two Republican challengers, Joe Layne and Spencer England.
  • Rep. Bruce Borders won with 38% of the vote compared to Kellie Streeter’s 35%. Former lawmaker Jeff Ellington, whose district boundaries changed during the 2021 redistricting session, earned 27% of the vote.

Open Seats:

  • In House District 24, previously held by Donna Schaibley of Carmel, the Associated Press called the Hamilton County seat for former Colts punter Hunter Smith. Smith snagged 62% of the vote over business owner Bill Gutrich’s 38%.
  • The Hancock County seat held by longtime Rep. Bob Cherry, who announced his retirement earlier this year, went to former Gov. Eric Holcomb speechwriter Ethan Lawson.
  • In the race for the District 51 seat — vacated by Denny Zent of Angola, who announced his retirement in January — Tonya Isa overcame Rhonda Sharp for the GOP nomination in the safely red seat.
  • In Noblesville, Republican Alaina Shonkwiler won over her challenger, Laura Alerding, to secure the nomination in a race to fill the District 29 seat vacated by GOP Rep. Chuck Goodrich.
  • Andrew Ireland earned 38% of the vote to Elizabeth Williams’ 37% in a four-way race for House District 90’s seat following Rep. Mike Speedy’s departure from the General Assembly.
  • U.S. Navy veteran and former Hendricks County Sheriff Brett Clark overcame Anne Engelhardt for the Republican nomination to fill the Senate seat vacancy resulting from Sen. John Crane of Avon’s retirement. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Indiana Election Results: Pike Township Schools Referendum Passes


Unofficial results show that Pike Township schools received approval to raise property taxes in order to fund district operations and programs that relied on federal COVID relief funding. This makes the district the first to share some of its property tax revenue with eligible charter schools, as required by a state law in 2023.

Three other school districts in Indiana had tax referendums on the ballot during Tuesday’s primary election.


  • Metropolitan School District of Pike: Approved 58.8% to 41.2%
  • Blue River Valley Schools: Rejected 83.2% to 16.8%
  • Brown County Schools: Approved 54.7% to 45.3%
  • Fremont Community Schools: Approved 51.7% to 48.3%

(Chalkbeat Indiana)

Looking For More?


For a complete list of all Indiana primary election results, click here!

Indiana Professors Sue After GOP Legislators Pass Law Regulating Faculty Tenure


Two professors are challenging an Indiana law, SEA 202, creating new regulations on faculty tenure at public colleges and universities. They want portions of the law blocked before it takes effect. The law requires governing boards to review tenured professors' status every five years.

Why it matters: This is important for faculty and staff at public colleges and universities in Indiana as the law's regulations on faculty tenure and promotions could limit academic freedom and hinder the recruitment of talent, making it harder for the state to compete with other states in higher education, per the complaints from the suing professors. (IBJ)

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Important Dates:


Tuesday, May 14th - Legislative Council, 2 pm in Room 404