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Downballot, Established Candidates Lead in Indiana

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Late polls showed Sen. Dick Lugar (above) trailing state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

Sen. Dick Lugar’s uphill re-election battle is the marquee race on the GOP ballot today in Indiana, where  primary voters are headed to the polls to decide the six-term Senator’s political fate.

Late polls showed state Treasurer Richard Mourdock ahead of Lugar, whose campaign turned to negative ads in the closing weeks.

Democrats are hoping to put the seat in play this November if Lugar is defeated. But Rep. Joe Donnelly still faces a tough climb in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat not named Bayh to the Senate since 1970. Birch Bayh and his son, Evan Bayh, are the only Democrats to earn that distinction.

Downballot from the Senate contest, voters on the state’s eastern side will likely pick two new Republican Members of Congress in safe open seats. A crowded field is seeking retiring GOP Rep. Dan Burton’s seat, and two top candidates are vying for the seat held by Rep. Mike Pence (R), who is running for governor.

Unlike Lugar’s race, the more established candidates are the frontrunners in these contests. But there’s room for an upset in both districts from low turnout and the Senate race absorbing the political oxygen in the Hoosier State.  

Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. in most of the state. Polls in the southeast corner, which is on Central Standard Time, open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

5th district

Former Rep. David McIntosh remains poised to win the GOP nomination in this district northwest of Indianapolis. But in a primary as crowded as this eight-candidate field, anything can happen.

McIntosh’s greatest competition is former U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks. She almost tied McIntosh in fundraising by bringing in almost $700,000 by mid-April, but she struggled to compete with the former three-term Congressman’s high name identification.

Much like Lugar, McIntosh’s campaign suffered from allegations about his residency. McIntosh reportedly moved to Virginia in 2005 to work as a lobbyist and even changed his driver’s license to that state. But he continued to vote in Indiana with a rental property address, sparking a complaint from the same Indiana voter who filed a similar request on Lugar.

However, McIntosh’s opponents failed to fully capitalized on this weakness. Brooks, for example, ran a positive paid media campaign for the duration of the race.

“David McIntosh ran a solid campaign, and his opponents weren’t aggressive enough,” a seasoned Indiana GOP operative said.

A super PAC, the Campaign for Primary Accountability, boosted McIntosh with a $132,000 independent expenditure on his behalf, according to online fundraising records. Its advertisements boosted McIntosh and criticized Brooks.

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