INDIANAPOLIS (WOWO): Third District Congressman Marlin Stutzman‘s decision to run for the Senate has touched off a Republican free-for-all for his House seat.
Less than a week after Stutzman announced he‘d give up his House seat, four candidates have jumped in already, while two more say they‘re giving it a serious look. With multiple credible candidates, the odds are overwhelming that the eventual winner won’t need – or get – a majority.
Since 1996, seven Indiana congressmen from safe districts have retired ahead of the primary. All seven produced at least eight candidates for the dominant party. The winning candidates averaged 40-percent of the vote, with none collecting a majority, and two winning with just 30-percent.
Sixth District Congressman Luke Messer narrowly lost a seven-way primary challenge to incumbent Congressman Dan Burton in 2010, then won in 2012 after an eight-way primary. He says a splintered primary magnifies the importance of every vote, and gives a potential edge to a candidate with a strong geographic or ideological base.
Messer says he believes the multicandidate primary is ultimately positive, as long as the tone of the debate doesn‘t turn nasty. He says candidates sharpen their campaigning ability by having to work for the nomination.