Hoosier Republicans were celebrating Monday after state lawmakers proposed the new Congressional map, but perhaps no one was happier than Rep. Dan Burton (R), whose chief primary competition will no longer reside in his district.
Former Indiana Republican Party Executive Director Luke Messer came within 2,300 votes of defeating Burton in the 2010 primary, when the Congressman mustered only 30 percent in a crowded field of GOP candidates. But with the new Congressional map, which still needs to be approved by state lawmakers, Messer lives in the 6th district — and that’s where he told Roll Call he will likely run if Rep. Mike Pence (R) runs for governor as planned.
“I’m certainly not going to move. That’s not something that we would consider. Mike Pence and I are really good friends, and I really want to give him deference for his decision,” Messer said. “If he were to decide to run for governor, we’re obviously going to take a very hard look at the district.”
Messer stopped short of saying he was completely ruling out a bid for the 5th district but said it’s not his “inclination right now.”
After Monday’s map unveiling, Burton wasn’t the only happy Republican in the state. Two previously competitive House districts, the 2nd and the 9th, were revised to include more Republican voters.
“When I look at maps like this, it reminds me that redistricting is like Christmas: It’s better to give than to receive,” said Chris Faulkner, an Indiana-based Republican consultant.
In particular, Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly’s 2nd district will be drastically altered to remove two of the most Democratic parts — the town of Kokomo and part of LaPorte County. GOP state lawmakers moved Elkhart County, which is reliably conservative, into the 2nd district.
Donnelly narrowly won re-election in 2010, defeating state Rep. Jackie Walorski (R) by less than 2 points. Walorski has already announced she will run again. Donnelly has interest in running for Senate, but his decision is partially contingent on what the new 2nd district looks like.
“Even though it appears that politics played a role in the drawing of this map, I am confident that a Democrat can win in the new 2nd Congressional District,” Donnelly said in a statement about the new map. “As for my future plans, my decision will ultimately be based on how I can best serve the people of this great state.”
The new map also drastically changes the 9th district, the eastern half of which will move into the redrawn 6th district. The 9th district’s three most southwestern counties were moved to the proposed 8th district, represented by freshman Rep. Larry Bucshon (R).
Instead, the new 9th district, represented by freshman Rep. Todd Young (R), will stretch north to the Indianapolis suburbs outside Marion County, which includes Indianapolis. The revisions to Young’s district make it slightly better for Republicans, after a decade that has seen the seat switch party control several times.