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Government / IPBS

Only small handful of Statehouse incumbents lose in Indiana primary

Only a small handful of Indiana Statehouse incumbents lost their reelection bids in Tuesday’s primary, all Republicans.

There was a concerted effort this cycle by more conservative challengers to unseat lawmakers, but few were successful.

There was always going to be at least three incumbent losses this year. That’s because there were three races with incumbents facing off against each other.

Rep. Bruce Borders (R-Jasonville) beat Rep. Jeff Ellington (R-Bloomfield) after Ellington moved into Borders' district following last year's redistricting.

Sen. Gary Byrne (R-Byrneville) beat Sen. Kevin Boehlein (R-Greenville) in a race that featured two incumbents who only joined the General Assembly in the last few months. Both of them caucused in to replace legislators who left their seats early.

READ MORE: Only two of Indiana's nine school referendums fail to receive voter approval

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But the other one of those incumbent vs. incumbent races was part of a larger trend this cycle. Rep. Curt Nisly (R-Milford) lost to his House colleague Rep. Craig Snow (R-Warsaw). Nisly has long been one of the two most extreme members of the GOP at the Statehouse.

The other most extreme member also lost. Rep. John Jacob (R-Indianapolis) was one of the incumbents upset by an outside challenger, Julie McGuire. McGuire is a former policy analyst for the Indiana Senate Republican caucus who was backed financially by the House GOP caucus, seeking to oust Jacob.

Still, two candidates who channeled anger among some conservatives over perceived inaction at the Statehouse, over COVID-19 mandates and government overreach did unseat incumbents.

Rep. John Young (R-Franklin) lost to consultant Robb Greene, who specifically cited what he viewed as failures of Republican leadership to stand up to big business and big government during the pandemic.

Rep. Dan Leonard (R-Huntington), considered one of the more moderate Republican voices at the Statehouse, was unseated after 10 terms in the General Assembly by Wabash County Councilmember Lorissa Sweet.

Sweet was backed a group aligned with Nisly. And Leonard had been the face of obstructing Nisly and Jacob's agenda at the Statehouse in his role as House Rules Committee chair, in which he would often challenge ultra-conservative measures brought by Nisly and Jacob.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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