IU McKinney professor, lawyer in undecided congressional primary race

A law professor and medical doctor is in an undecided race against a 50-year lawyer for the Democratic nomination for Indiana’s Eighth Congressional District as votes continue to be tallied Wednesday from southwestern Indiana.

As of Wednesday morning, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law professor David Orentlicher of Terre Haute and challenger Ron Drake were locked in a race that was too close to call and may be decided by absentee and overseas ballots. Drake, a Sullivan County native and former state representative who maintains a law office in Washington, D.C., where he represents educationally disabled children, led Orentlicher by about 60 votes out of more than 58,000 cast.

Drake had 29,182 votes compared with 29,121 for Orentlicher, equating to a lead of 50.05 percent for Drake to 49.95 percent for Orentlicher. The winner will challenge incumbent three-term Republican Rep. Larry Bucshon in the November general election. Bucshon, a heart surgeon from Newburgh, defeated challenger Dr. Richard Moss of Jasper in Tuesday’s GOP primary.

Angela Nussmeyer, co-director of the Indiana Elections Division in the Secretary of State’s office, said votes were still being tabulated Wednesday from late-arriving precincts in Posey, Sullivan and Vanderburgh counties. She said results won’t be final until all counties certify their vote totals by noon Monday, May 16.

Between now and then, votes from service members and other voters overseas will be counted along with provisional ballots, Nussmeyer said. The deadline for these votes to be tabulated is May 13. “A lot of fluidity goes on over the course of 10 days,” she said.  

Under state law, candidates will have until Tuesday, May 17 to request a recount; Democratic state party chair John Zody may request a recount as late as May 20.

Indiana’s Eighth Congressional District includes the cities of Evansville, Terre Haute, Vincennes and Jasper and covers the southwestern Indiana counties of Clay, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Greene, Knox, Martin, Owen, Parke, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Sullivan, Vanderburgh, Vermillion, Vigo and Warrick. County-by-county vote totals in the race are available here.

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