The dedicated voters who turned out to vote in Tuesday’s primary — the first since the 2021 redistricting led by the Indiana General Assembly’s Republican supermajorities — sent the message that previous experience in a public office is not necessarily an advantage for a candidate.
Jennifer-Ruth Green defeated Blair Milo, former mayor of LaPorte, for the Republican nomination in U.S. House District 1, and political newcomer Robb Greene of Shelbyville overcame incumbent Rep. John Young, R-Franklin, in Indiana House District 47.
But incumbents generally held their ground otherwise, turning back challengers in about 20 legislative primaries, including a slate endorsed by the Liberty Defense fund, a political action committee with a “firm conservative stance … held tight to a no-compromise view on the issues of the Sanctity of Life, the 2nd Amendment, and Religious Freedom,’’ according to its website. The group targeted about 20 Republican House incumbents, and all but one—Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington—survived the primary.
U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, passed through the primary unopposed, as did his Democratic opponent in the fall, Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott.
Green won the Republican primary in U.S. House District 1 with 47.1% of the vote, defeating fellow veteran Milo, who received 22.5%. In the November general election, Green will challenge Democratic first-term incumbent legislator Rep. Frank Mrvan—son of retired Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond—in the northwest corner of the state.
Milo became mayor of LaPorte when she was 28. She then worked in Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration. However, this election was Green’s first attempt for public office.
If successful in the fall, Green would join only a few other Black Republicans in Congress. She is a Trump supporter who espouses the former president’s “America First” policies.
Republicans currently control seven out of Indiana’s nine congressional districts. It’s been nearly a century since a Republican won U.S. House District 1.
Former state Sen. Erin Houchin of Salem won the U.S. House District 9 seat with 37.3% of the vote, nearly 7,000 votes above second-place Mike Sodrel, who received 25.8%.
Sodrel, who represented the district from 2005 to 2007, is the CEO of Sodrel Truck Lines and Free Enterprise System in Jeffersonville.
Stu Barnes-Israel of Greensburg landed in third place in the race. He is a new face in Indiana politics who previously served in the Army.
In Tuesday’s primary, there were nine Republicans and three Democrats on the ballot competing for the office. Other candidates in the race included real estate agent Jim Baker, former pastor Brian Tibbs, veteran Dan Heiwig and professor Eric Schansberg.
This was Houchin’s second time running for the seat. She lost to incumbent Trey Hollingsworth in 2016.
The seat became vacant in January when Hollingsworth announced he would not seek reelection. Indiana’s eight other congressional incumbents won renomination.
Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Milford, lost his House District 22 spot on the November ballot to Rep. Craig Snow, R-Warsaw, by a hefty margin. The two of them were drawn into the same district in 2021.
Rep. Jeff Ellington, R-Bloomfield, suffered a similar fate, losing to Rep. Bruce Borders, R-Jasonville, who impersonates Elvis Presley in his free time. Ellington currently represents the Bloomington area’s House District 62.
Young was challenged by Luke Campbell—an advocate of personal liberties—and Scott Strother, a Bargersville firearms instructor and political newcomer. But ultimately, he was defeated by the fourth candidate, Greene, who said he advocates for solutions driven by local government.
Leonard lost to Lorissa Sweet—a former Wabash County councilmember from Somerset—in House District 50.
In House District 93, Rep. John Jacob, R-Indianapolis, lost to party-backed challenger Julie McGuire, an Indy native and former president of the Northwest Perry Neighborhood Association.
Educator Andrea Hunley won the Democratic District 46 seat comfortably with 43.9% of the vote. She prevailed over Indianapolis City-County Council member Kristin Jones, nonprofit leader Ashley Eason and Marion County Prosecutor’s Office employee Karla Lopez-Owens.
In November, Hunley will challenge Republican Evan Shearin, who ran unopposed in the downtown Indianapolis district.
Sen. Gary Byrne, R-Palmyra, got the slight edge over Kevin Boehnlein, R-Clarksville. Byrne took over the rest of Houchin’s term when she resigned, while Boehnlein replaced former Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville, when he retired.
Isaac Gleitz is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.