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May 07, 2018

2018 Indiana Primary Election Preview

After a busy 2018 legislative session, the Indiana State Senate and House of Representatives are gearing up for the 2018 Indiana Primary Election. Half of the Senate and all of the House seats are up for election. The upcoming elections are intriguing, considering 16 members of the Indiana General Assembly announced their retirements during session, including many key leaders such as the Senate President Pro Tem, the House Majority Caucus Chair, House Speaker Pro Tem, House Democratic Floor Leader and key committee chairs. This opens the door for current elected officials to step into leadership positions and for newly elected officials to establish themselves in the Indiana General Assembly during next budget session.

One of the key committee chairs that retired after the end of this legislative session was House Utility Chairman David Ober. Representative Ober was recently appointed by Governor Holcomb to serve as a new Commissioner on the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. On Wednesday, April 25, 2018, David Abbott was chosen to finish Representative Ober’s term for Indiana House District 82. Before being elected to the Indiana House, Abbott served as a Noble County Commissioner and Rome City Town Council Member.

House of Representatives

All 100 House seats are up for election. The Republicans currently hold a supermajority in the House with 70 seats, while the Democrats hold 30 seats. A total of 13 Indiana State Representatives announced that they will not seek re-election in 2018.

House Retiring Legislators


  • Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle, 2010)
  • Rep. Greg Beumer (R-Modoc, 2013)
  • Rep. Wes Culver (R-Goshen, 2008)
  • Rep. Bill Friend (R-Macy, 1992)
  • Rep. David Ober (R-Albion, 2012)
  • Rep. Kathy Richardson (R-Noblesville, 1992)
  • Rep. Milo Smith (R-Columbus, 2006)
  • Rep. Tom Washburne (R-Evansville, 2012)


  • Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary, 1982)
  • Rep. Clyde Kersey (D-Terre Haute, 1996)
  • Rep. Linda Lawson (D-Hammond, 1998)
  • Rep. Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City, 1998)
  • Rep. Steve Stemler (D-Jeffersonville, 2006)

Who’s Leaving

District 44

Retiring Legislator: Rep. Jim Baird

Primary Candidates:

  • Kimberly Anne Fidler (D) is the UniServ Director for the Indiana State Teachers Association. Fidler ran unopposed in the Democratic primary in 2016 but was defeated in the general election by Jim Baird. This year, she is again running unopposed in the primary election.
  • Beau Baird (R) is the chairman of the Putnam County GOP and the son of retiring Representative Jim Baird.
  • Jess L. Norton (R) is the owner and operator of Lockridge Hill Investments LLC.

District 33

Retiring Legislator: Rep. Greg Beumer

Primary Candidates:

  • Shon Byrum (D) is the Mayor of Winchester, Indiana.
  • Jenae Horn Blasdel (R) is currently the Jay County Republican Party chair. She was formerly the campaign manager for State Rep. Greg Beumer and has been involved in several local and state campaigns.
  • John (J.D.) Prescott (R) is a farmer in Randolph County.

District 49

Retiring Legislator: Rep. Wes Culver

Primary Candidates:

  • Kevin Gipson (R) is President of Star Design.
  • Christy Stutzman (R) is the wife of former congressman and state lawmaker Marlin Stutzman.

District 23

Retiring Legislator: Rep. Bill Friend

Primary Candidates:

  • Terry Doran (D) is a member of the Logansport City Council.
  • Ethan Manning (R) is an associate broker with Carriage Oldfather Reality.

District 82

Retiring Legislator: Rep. David Ober

Primary Candidates:

  • Mike Wilber (D) is a union sheet metal worker and also a volunteer firefighter. This is the fourth time Wilber has challenged for the District 82 seat as he was defeated in the previous three by Rep. David Ober.
  • David H. Abbott (R) was a Noble County commissioner and was recently caucused in to replace Rep. Ober until the end of his term.

District 29

Retiring Legislator: Rep. Kathy Richardson

Primary Candidates:

  • Tracy M Roberts (D) is a CAD processor/designer from Noblesville.
  • Brandon (Brad) Beaver (R) is a veteran Hamilton County councilmember.
  • Garen T. Bragg (R) is an insurance producer and officer in the Army National Guard and son-in-law to State Senator Mike Delph.
  • Chuck Goodrich (R) is the president of Gaylor Electric.
  • Gregory P. O'Connor (R) is a banker from Noblesville and a 10-year member of the Noblesville City Council.

District 59

Retiring Legislator: Rep. Milo Smith

Primary Candidates:

  • Mary Kohen (D) is a community activist and volunteer.
  • Dale Nowlin (D) is a Columbus North School educator.
  • Benjamin C. Chastain (R) is a doctor in Columbus.
  • John D. Counceller (R) is self-employed.
  • JoAnne Flohr (R) is currently the Ohio Township trustee.
  • Ryan Lauer (R) is the former Bartholomew County Council President.
  • Allen K. Smith II (R) previously ran in the 6th Congressional District.
  • Lew Wilson (R) is the Bartholomew County assessor.

District 64

Retiring Legislator: Rep. Tom Washburne

Primary Candidates:

  • Ken A Beckerman (R) is a doctor.
  • Matt Hostettler (R) is the son of former Indiana 8th District Representative John Hostettler.
  • Bruce W. Ungethiem (R) is the president of the Vanderburgh County Commissioners.

District 3

Retiring Legislator: Rep. Charlie Brown

Primary Candidates:

  • Ragen H. Hatcher (D) is a Gary City councilwoman and attorney.
  • Jessica Renslow (D) is a community builder in Gary.

District 43

Retiring Legislator: Rep. Clyde Kersey

Primary Candidates:

  • Mark Bird (D) is a former Vigo County councilman and longtime Terre Haute resident. Bird previously ran for Terre Haute Mayor in 2015.
  • Sylvester "Coach" Edwards (D)
  • Norman E. (Norm) Loudermilk II (D) is a former Terre Haute councilman and police officer, and he is currently one of the city’s assistant fire chiefs.
  • Chad Overton (D) is the owner of a ServPro business.
  • Tonya Pfaff (D) is a career Vigo County teacher.
  • Isaac Deal (R) is a current political science major at Indiana State University.
  • Darrell (Eddie) Felling (R) is the Terre Haute City attorney.

District 1

Retiring Legislator: Rep. Linda Lawson

Primary Candidate:

  • Carolyn B. Jackson (D) is a longtime community leader and public interest advocate.

District 9

Retiring Legislator: Rep. Scott Pelath

Primary Candidates:

  • Patricia (Pat) A. Boy (D) is a four-term member of the Michigan City Common Council.
  • Sean Fitzpatrick (D) is a former La Porte County deputy coroner.
  • Duane Parry (D) is a 27-year member of Carpenter’s Local 599 and the former president of the Michigan City Common Council.
  • Dan Granquist (R) ran for the seat in 2012.

District 71

Retiring Legislator: Rep. Steve Stemler

Primary Candidates:

  • Rita A. Fleming (D) is a doctor in Jeffersonville.
  • Jason Schlatter (D) is a local entrepreneur in small business in real estate.
  • Matt Owen (R) is a Jeffersonville City Councilman.

In addition, primary election opponents have filed against 18 Representatives.

House Incumbents with Primary Opponents


  • Rep. Steven Davisson (R-Salem, 2010)
  • Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville, 2006)
  • Rep. Richard Hamm (R- Richmond, 2012)
  • Rep. Jack Jordan (R-Bremen, 2016)
  • Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour, 2012)
  • Rep. Curt Nisly (R-Goshen, 2014)
  • Rep. Thomas Saunders (R-Lewisville, 1996)
  • Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn, 2012)
  • Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel, 1996)
  • Rep. David Wolkins (R-Warsaw, 1988)
  • Rep. John Young (R-Franklin, 2016)
  • Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville, 2012)


  • Rep. Terri Jo Austin (D-Anderson, 2002)
  • Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie, 2012)
  • Rep. Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne, 2006)
  • Rep. Earl Harris Jr. (D-East Chicago, 2016)
  • Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster, 2006)
  • Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis, 2012)


In the Senate, there are 25 seats up for election. The Republicans hold a supermajority in the Senate with a 41 to nine advantage over the Democrats. Three of the seats up for election are currently held by Democrats, while the other 22 seats are held by Republicans. Two Indiana Senators are not running for re-election in 2018.

Senate Retiring Legislators


  • Sen. Doug Eckerty (R-Yorktown, 2010)
  • Sen. Jim Smith (R-Charlestown, 2010)
  • Sen. David Long (R-Fort Wayne, 1996)

District 26

Retiring Legislator: Sen. Doug Eckerty

Primary Candidates:

  • Dave Ring (D) calls himself a progressive business leader, organic farmer, and government watchdog.
  • Dave Cravens (D) is the Anderson fire chief and a commercial real estate developer.
  • Mike Gaskill (R) is a State Farm Insurance agent and Madison County councilman.
  • Steffanie Owens (R) is a Madison County commissioner.

District 45

Retiring Legislator: Sen. Jim Smith

  • John Perkins (D) is retired.
  • Chris Garten (R) is a Marine and small business owner.

During the 2018 session, Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) surprisingly announced that he plans to retire from his Senate seat on November 6, 2018, the day of the General Election. Senator Long served as the Senate President Pro Tem for the last 12 years and in the Indiana Senate for 22 years. Senator Long was recently re-elected to a four-year term in 2016. The Indiana Republican Party will schedule a caucus to select a replacement in SD 16, and the entire Senate will select the new Senate President Pro Tem.

Sen. Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) and Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle) (R- Jasper) are two names that have come up as candidates to replace Sen. Long as Senate President Pro Tem when he retires. The selection of the new Senate President Pro Tem could lead to more shuffling in the Senate with other potential leadership roles opening up (Tax and Fiscal Policy Chair or Floor Leader).

Primary election opponents have filed against six senators.

Senate Incumbents with Primary Opponents


  • Sen. Mike Delph (R-Carmel, 2005)
  • Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle, 2008)
  • Sen. James Merritt (R-Indianapolis, 1990)
  • Sen. Joe Zakas (R-Granger, 1982)


  • Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson, 1997)
  • Sen. Frank Mrvan (D-Hammond, 1978)

The 2018 Primary Election will be on May 8, 2018, and the 2018 General Election will be on November 6.

The material contained in this communication is informational, general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. The material contained in this communication should not be relied upon or used without consulting a lawyer to consider your specific circumstances. This communication was published on the date specified and may not include any changes in the topics, laws, rules or regulations covered. Receipt of this communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In some jurisdictions, this communication may be considered attorney advertising.

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