Election recap: Braun win, Delph loss among top Indiana stories

On an election night in which Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Republicans appeared to tighten their hold on the Senate, Indiana stayed reliably red, with Republicans winning seven of nine House seats and challenger Mike Braun defeating incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly.

But in one of the biggest Election Day upsets, longtime Republican state Sen. Mike Delph lost the Statehouse seat he has held since 2005, representing the northern Indianapolis and Hamilton County suburbs. Delph’s loss mirrored a national trend in which Democratic candidates made strong gains in suburban areas. 

Donnelly conceded at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. With 97 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday, Braun led Donnelly 53 percent to 43 percent. Libertarian Lucy Brenton had 4 percent.

“I called Mike Braun to let him know I will do everything I can to make sure there is a smooth transition, because that’s what the people of Indiana deserve,” Donnelly said to the crowd of supporters Tuesday night.

Donnelly spoke to supporters for only about two minutes, but said he was the “luckiest guy in the world.” 

Sen.-elect Braun told the GOP crowd that he won’t let them down. He said politics has gotten way too nasty on both sides. “It should be about ideas,” he said. “It should be about what you bring to the table.”

The crowd responded: “Amen."

Later, he said again that politics has “gotten too nasty.”

Meanwhile, Democrat J.D. Ford pulled off a big upset Tuesday, unseating Delph. With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Ford held a 53 percent to 47 percent lead over Delph on Wednesday morning.

“I wanted District 29 to be heard and with our win tonight, they will be,” Ford told fellow Democratic supporters Tuesday night. “Now you have a voice in the Indiana General Assembly.”

Ford is thought to be Indiana’s first openly gay state lawmaker.

“Ladies and gentleman, we just made history, and no one can take that from us,” Ford said.

It was a rematch for Ford and Delph, one of the Legislature’s most socially conservative Republicans. Four years ago, Delph won with 54.3 percent of the vote to Ford’s 45.7 percent.

Ford, who was celebrating his 36th birthday on Tuesday, said this year he was successful because he had another four years of getting to know the community.

“I think this time around I was a much more prepared candidate,” Ford said. “I knew the people. The people knew me.”

Ford said he wants to work on education reform and passing a hate crimes bill in the upcoming session.

Congressional races

Republicans maintained their dominant hold on Indiana U.S. congressional seats Tuesday, winning seven of the nine races.

Susan Brooks, Trey Hollingsworth, Greg Pence, Jim Banks, Jim Baird, Jackie Walorski and Larry Bucshon were declared winners in their races Tuesday night. Democrat Andre Carson was an exception in House District 7, winning as expected over Wayne Harmon. Also, Democrat Peter Visclosky was a victor in District 1.

1st District: Democrat Peter Visclosky dominated his race, as expected, over Republican Mark Leyva in the 1st District. Visclosky has represented the district since 1985.

2nd District: Rep. Jackie Walorski defeated Democrat Mel Hall to win re-election to a fourth term in northern Indiana’s 2nd District.

3rd District: Despite being out-fundraised during the past two quarters, Republican incumbent Jim Banks held onto his 3rd District congressional seat, defeating Democrat Courtney Tritch.

4th District: Republican state Rep. Jim Baird is headed to Congress after defeating Democrat Tobi Beck in Indiana’s 4th District. Baird will replace Republican Todd Rokita, who chose to run for U.S. Senate this year rather than seek re-election. Rokita lost in the Republican primary.

5th District: Susan Brooks cruised to victory in the 5th District, topping Dee Thornton. The district includes the northern fifth of Indianapolis and most of the northern suburbs. Brooks was first elected in 2012.

6th District: Greg Pence, an older brother of Vice President Mike Pence, has won an Indiana congressional race. The 61-year-old owner of two antique malls had been expected to easily win election to the heavily Republican district seat. Democrat Jeannine Lee Lake, who's the publisher of a bimonthly Muncie newspaper, had received an endorsement from comedian and Indiana native David Letterman in her longshot bid to claim the seat. Eastern Indiana’s 6th District seat was open because Republican Rep. Luke Messer ran in the GOP primary for the Senate.

7th District: Andre Carson will continue to represent the 7th District, which covers the lower four-fifths of Marion County. He claimed about 62 percent of the vote against Republican Wayne Harmon. Carson has represented the 7th District since he won a special election in 2008 after the death of his grandmother, Rep. Julia Carson.

8th District: Republican Larry Bucshon trounced William Tanoos by a margin of 65 percent to 35 percent.

9th District: Rep. Trey Hollingsworth defeated Democrat Liz Watson to win re-election to a second term in southern Indiana's 9th District, which extends from the Ohio River to the south Indianapolis suburbs. Hollingsworth won the district by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin.

Statewide races

Republicans will maintain control over Indiana’s statewide elected offices, as the GOP on Tuesday easily swept races for secretary of state, treasurer and auditor.

Secretary of State Republican incumbent Connie Lawson defeated Democrat Jim Harper and Libertarian Mark Rutherford.

Lawson has served as secretary of state since 2012 after being appointed by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels. The position is limited to two terms, but because Lawson was appointed to the position in 2012 instead of elected, she was eligible to run for re-election this year.

A Democrat hasn’t held the seat since now-Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, who served from 1989 to 1994.

For state auditor, Republican incumbent Tera Klutz defeated Democrat Joselyn Whitticker and Libertarian John Schick. Klutz became auditor in 2017 after Republican Suzanne Crouch left the position to become lieutenant governor. A Democrat hasn’t held the seat since 1986.

And for state treasurer, Republican incumbent Kelly Mitchell defeated Democrat John Aguilera. Mitchell has been treasurer since 2014 after being appointed to the position by then-Gov. Mike Pence. A Democrat hasn’t held the seat since 1979.

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