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Here’s who will be on the May primary ballot for U.S. Senate, president in Indiana
The filing deadline for Indiana’s May 7 primary election has passed, which means we now have a better idea of who will be on the ballot across the state.
There are open seats in Indiana for the U.S. Senate, governor’s office and three U.S. House seats, which means it’s going to be a critical and competitive election cycle. There are also a dozen candidates running in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District, despite U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz’s last minute decision to seek reelection after initially saying she would not be running in 2024.
Plus there are competitive May primaries in more than a third of the State House districts and 10 state Senate districts.
It’s still possible candidates could be removed from the ballot. Hoosiers have until noon on Feb. 16 to challenge someone’s candidacy with the Indiana Election Commission, the committee with the authority to remove someone from the ballot. And some candidates are clearly at risk.
Here’s who will likely be on the ballot across the whole state:
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb is term-limited, which means the seat is up for grabs. It’s rare for this many credible Republican candidates to run for a gubernatorial primary election. Here’s who is hoping to replace Holcomb:
Republicans on the ballot:
- U.S. Sen. Mike Braun
- Former Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers
- Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch
- Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden
- Former Attorney General Curtis Hill
- Jamie Reitenour, a mother of five who most recently worked for Tory R. Walker Engineering, Inc.
Democrats on the ballot:
- Anderson city employee Tamie Dixon-Tatum
- Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick
Dixon-Tatum’s candidacy will likely be challenged. Unofficial tallies submitted by county offices to the state Election Division show that in eight of nine congressional districts, Dixon-Tatum was well short of the required number of petition signatures required under state law to qualify for the ballot. In a statement, state Democratic Party officials said the party was “united behind” McCormick.
President Joe Biden is running for reelection. Here’s who all will be on the ballot in Indiana. Keep in mind, Indiana’s primary is later than most states, so it’s possible a presidential candidate will have already dropped out by May.
Republicans on the ballot:
- Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
- Former President Donald Trump
Democrats on the ballot:
- President Joe Biden
Haley’s candidacy could still be challenged. She just barely cleared the required number of signatures in the 7th Congressional District, located entirely in Marion County. Before the filing deadline, Trump questioned whether Haley would obtain enough signatures to qualify.
Braun is not seeking reelection because he is running for governor, leaving this U.S. Senate seat open.
Republicans on the ballot:
- U.S. Rep. Jim Banks
- Egg farmer John Rust
Democrats on the ballot:
- Former state Rep. Marc Carmichael
- Psychologist Valerie McCray
Whether or not Rust will stay on the ballot could hinge on an Indiana Supreme Court case.
State law says that in order to run in a primary election, a candidate must have chosen that party’s ballot in the previous two elections in which they voted, unless they can get approval from the county party chair. Rust voted as a Republican in the 2016 primaries, but pulled Democratic ballots prior to that.
The Indiana Supreme Court is now considering Rust’s challenge to the state’s ballot access laws, but it’s unclear whether the court will rule prior to the Feb. 16 deadline to challenge someone’s candidacy.
You can see a full list of candidates on the Indiana Secretary of State website.
Senators rejected a proposal Monday to remove strict limitations on what legal research Indiana’s public access counselor could consider in reviewing open government matters. That means House Bill 1338 could face a full Senate vote on Tuesday with provisions that supporters of the access counselor’s office argue would hamstring its ability to answer questions about …
Indiana doctors performed fewer than four abortions a week during the final three months of 2023, continuing the sharp downturn under the state’s near-total abortion ban.
Doctors reported 46 abortions from October through December, according to the state Department of Health’s latest quarterly report on abortions.
The ban that took effect in August allows abortions only in cases of rape or incest before 10 weeks post-fertilization or to protect the life and health of the mother or because of a lethal fetal anomaly up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. It also voided the state licenses of all Indiana abortion clinics, allowing abortions only in hospitals or hospital-owned surgery centers.
Of the abortions reported during the fourth quarter of last year, 22 were because of lethal fetal anomalies, 21 were attributed to health risks to the pregnant woman and three were due to rape or incest, according to the state report released last week.
The 46 abortions during the fourth quarter represented a 97% drop from the 1,724 reported during the same three months in 2022 while the abortion ban was blocked by a judge’s order later overturned by the state Supreme Court.
Indiana Right to Life, the state’s most prominent anti-abortion group, hailed the decline but joined criticism of the Department of Health for not releasing individual terminated pregnancy reports as it had done before the ban went into effect.
The agency has said it no longer releases those reports under state law that declares medical records confidential because of more detailed information required from doctors.
“The Indiana Department of Health is blocking public access to terminated pregnancy reports,” Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said in a statement Monday. “This manipulation creates a lack of transparency, making it impossible to verify these numbers are accurate — and that Indiana law is being followed related to abortion activity.”
Abortion-rights supporters have argued that the ban wrongly limits access to health care. They’ve also maintained that abortion care would largely be unavailable outside Indianapolis even in situations meeting the limited exceptions, with the procedure no longer available at abortion clinics.
All but two of the 46 abortions during the reporting period were performed at Indianapolis hospitals, with the most at Riley Health Maternity Tower (21) and Eskenazi Hospital (10). The only hospital-performed abortions outside Indianapolis were one each at Dupont Hospital and Parkview Regional Medical Center, both in Fort Wayne.
The Senate has backed off a proposal that would block lawyers who’ve faced recent serious misconduct sanctions from running for state attorney general. A Senate committee had added a provision to an elections-related bill last week as Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita remains under scrutiny from the state’s attorney disciplinary commission after being reprimanded by …
The scope of what Indiana’s public access counselor could consider in reviewing open government matters would be strictly limited under provisions added to legislation in the closing days of the legislative session.
Amendments that a Senate committee made this week to House Bill 1338 would also reduce the office’s independence by eliminating the four-year term the access counselor has after being appointed by the governor.
The Legislature in 1999 established the access counselor position to review questions from the public, government officials and others about the state’s open meetings and public records laws.
The public access counselor’s office, with two attorneys and one other staff member, issues dozens of advisory opinions each year but has no authority to enforce the access laws or punish violators.
Advocate says amendment ‘guts’ counselor’s authority
Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, offered the amendment allowing the access counselor’s advisory opinions to consider only “the public access laws, as plainly written,” and “valid opinions of Indiana courts.”
Freeman, chair of the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee, expressed frustration with Public Access Counselor Luke Britt’s opinions without giving specifics during the Tuesday meeting when the provision was added.
“The public access counselor, it says that he, in this case, shall liberally construe the code,” Freeman said. “He’s issued some opinions that I vehemently disagree with and I think others in our body and in this building vehemently disagree with.”
The amendment “functionally guts” the access counselor’s ability to consider the context of a situation unless it has been directly addressed by the Legislature or court, said Amelia McClure, executive director of the Hoosier State Press Association.
“The code can never contemplate all of the different circumstances that public access concerns are going to arise,” McClure said. “So the public access counselor has to consider new technologies, what location, the circumstances of the conversation in a way that a civil code will never be able to contemplate.”
Britt was appointed access counselor in 2013 by then-Gov. Mike Pence and reappointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2017 and 2021.
Britt, whose current term runs until Oct. 31, 2025, declined to comment to State Affairs on Freeman’s amendments. The governor’s office didn’t immediately reply Thursday to a request for comment.
The restrictions on the access counselor’s office were not raised during the first seven weeks of this year’s legislative session and became public only two days before the Senate committee’s deadline to take action.
Public access counselor’s role at issue
Some conservatives criticized an opinion Britt released last fall in which he concluded the Hamilton East Public Library Board in Fishers violated the open meetings law when two board members met with their attorneys at a coffee shop.
That opinion came amid public debate over a push by conservative members of that board to review all youth-section books and move those with “inappropriate” content to adult sections.
The opening section of Indiana’s public records law states it should be “liberally construed to implement this policy and place the burden of proof for the nondisclosure of a public record on the public agency that would deny access to the record.”
Freeman said during the committee meeting that he favored striking the “liberally construed” phrase from the law, but other senators thought that went too far.
The amendment limiting the access counselor’s authority was added to the bill on a 5-3 vote as Democratic Sen. Greg Taylor joined Freeman and other Republicans Mike Bohacek, Cyndi Carrasco and Eric Koch. Republicans Liz Brown and Sue Glick and Democrat Rodney Pol voted against the amendment.
Glick said the restriction on what the access counselor could consider didn’t make sense.
“You’re paying an attorney for their opinion, and now you’re limiting that,” Glick said.
Change would eliminate term of office
Freeman also advocated for an amendment eliminating the access counselor’s four-year term and making the position one that serves “at the pleasure of the governor.”
“When we have a new governor … I believe the governor should be able to pick the person that they’re choosing to serve,” Freeman said. “As any other appointed office, we serve at the privilege of the governor. So I believe this should be no different.”
Those people appointed to lead state departments can typically be removed at the governor’s discretion. However, hundreds of appointments to state boards and other positions, such as the state Election Division’s co-directors, are made for set terms.
McClure, the Hoosier State Press Association’s director, said eliminating the four-year term would take away some of the office’s independence from political concerns.
“That’s important when it’s an advisory opinion that’s interpreting actions of all kinds of different bodies that have all kinds of different political affiliations,” McClure said.
The full bill, which initially focused only on allowing local government boards to establish meeting decorum rules, could be taken up by the full Senate next week. The additions would still also need approval from the House before this year’s legislative session ends by March 14.