6 races to watch in the Indiana primary election

(Design: Joy Walstrum)

Apr 30, 2024

The first openly competitive contest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in a generation will end with Tuesday’s primary election, as will crowded races for several open congressional seats. 

The primary won’t officially decide any political race — only the Nov. 5 general election can do that. But Republicans hold major advantages in statewide and many district-level contests, and who secures which nominations will go a long way toward deciding who may lead the state in the years to come. 

>> Related: How does voting by political party work in Indiana?

Here are six key primary contests to watch on election night. 


The race to be Indiana’s next chief executive has been perhaps the most noteworthy of the election cycle, with six Republicans bringing a variety of experience and outsider credentials to the competition. 

Sen. Mike Braun has led in the polls from day one, including running up a 34 percentage-point lead in an April State Affairs/Howey Politics Indiana survey. 

The other five candidates are: Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, former Attorney General Curtis Hill, Indianapolis mom Jamie Reitenour and two former state secretaries of commerce in Brad Chambers and Eric Doden

The winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary will face Democrat and former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick, who will advance for her party unopposed. 

Republican candidates spent tens of millions of dollars in an attempt to stand out in their crowded pack. The primary race also featured four televised debates, including a chaotic final display on April 24.  

U.S. Senate

Two Democrats are vying for the chance to replace Braun in the U.S. Senate: Former state Rep. Marc Carmichael and Valerie McCray, a clinical psychologist. 

Carmichael has outspent McCray in the race by a margin of nearly $63,000 to $15,000. 

Both are attempting to become the state’s first Democratic senator since Joe Donnelly’s election in 2012. 

Rep. Jim Banks is running unopposed in the Republican primary. 

3rd Congressional District

Banks’ entry into the Senate race leaves his seat in Congress open, and a bevy of Republicans are seeking to replace him: Grant Bucher, Wendy Davis, Mike Felker, Jon Kenworthy, Tim Smith, Marlin A. Stutzman, Eric Whalen and Andy Zay.

State Affairs has identified Stutzman, a former congressman; Smith, a self-funding former Fort Wayne mayoral candidate; and Davis, a former Allen County judge, as candidates to watch in the crowded race. 

Kiley Adolph and Phil Goss are running against one another in the Democratic primary. 

5th Congressional District

After initially deciding against another run, Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz reversed course to seek re-election in 2024. 

Eight other Republicans are running against Spartz: Raju Chinthala, Max Engling, Chuck Goodrich, Mark Hurt, Patrick Malayter, Matthew Peiffer, L.D. Powell and Larry L. Savage Jr.

Goodrich, a member of the Indiana House of Representatives, has spent more than $2 million on TV ads as he seeks to unseat Spartz, according to AdImpact. 

Two Democrats, Ryan Pfenninger and Deborah A. Pickett, are on the ballot. 

6th Congressional District

Seven Republicans are attempting to replace retiring Rep. Greg Pence: Jamison E. Carrier, Darin Childress, Bill Frazier, John Jacob, state Sen. Jeff Raatz, Jefferson Shreve and state Rep. Mike Speedy. 

Shreve, who ran unsuccessfully for Indianapolis mayor in 2023, has spent nearly $4 million — predominantly through TV advertising — in his bid. 

Cynthia Wirth, whom Pence defeated by 35 percentage points in 2022, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. 

8th Congressional District

Republican Rep. Larry Bucshon is also retiring, and a dozen candidates in both parties are seeking to fill his seat. 

On the Republican side, former Rep. John Hostettler, state Sen. Mark Messmer, former President Donald Trump White House staff member Dominick Kavanaugh and frequent Bucshon primary challenger Richard Moss are each making a push. 

Fellow Republicans Jim Case, Jeremy Heath, Luke Misner and Kristi Risk are also running but trail the above pack in campaign spending. 

Four Democrats are also seeking a nomination: Erik Hurt, Peter FH Priest II, Edward Upton Sein and Michael Talarzyk.
Contact Rory Appleton on X at @roryehappleton or email him at [email protected].

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