Post Primary: Indiana GOP Looking for Gains in November

by ekramer on May 6, 2010

Now, that the Indiana primary races are over, parties and candidates are starting to focus their attention on November’s general election.

A majority of politically experienced Republicans were winners in races where they faced those who were connected to or had support from the Tea Party movement. Now, Republicans are looking to gain seats in Congress as well as the Indiana State House.

Ed Feigenbaum, the editor of Indiana Legislative Insight, says the party, including Governor Mitch Daniels, will likely focus on districts bordering the Ohio River.

“They’re really going after Senate and House races, several of them targeted specifically by the Governor,” he says, “and they may put together an integrated marketing approach to tell Hoosiers that the Governor needs more people on his team in the legislature.”

One of those races is for state house district 70, which includes parts of Harrison and Floyd counties. It pits Republican Rhonda Rhoads against House Democratic Whip Paul Robertson.

But many of the winners in Republican elections prevailed with relatively small percentages of voter support. For example, U.S. Rep. Dan Burton survived challenges within the Republican primary by only 2 percentage points over his closest challenger. Even Todd Young of Bloomington got only 35 percent of the vote to be the Republican Congressional candidate in the ninth district.

Feigenbaum says these kinds of numbers played out across the state.

“In virtually every district, there were anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of the Republicans voting against the ultimate Republican nominee, whoever that might have been,” he says.

Feigenbaum also says it’s not clear how the Tea Party movement will will play out in the general election.

“Some of the Tea Party sympathizers, for example, may not have been happy that they were ultimately unsuccessful in all of the Congressional primaries as well as the state legislative races,” he says. “And some of those people may chose to stay home in November.”

Feigenbaum says this poses a challenge to the Republican Party to unify its ranks and capture a large part of the independent vote to win in the general election.

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