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In my column on the main site, I talk about how the split between John Hostettler and Marlin Stutzman helped Dan Coats win Indiana’s Republican senatorial primary with an unimpressive share of the vote. But fellow Hoosier Republican Dan Burton was an even more jarring case: he managed to win renomination in his congressional district with just 30 percent of the vote, beating his nearest competitior in a six-way race by two percentage points. If fewer people had split the vote, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Burton would have lost.
Things were a little better for Congressman Mark Souder, who also faced a strong anti-incumbent primary challenge. Souder beat car dealer Bob Thomas 48 percent to 34 percent. Republicans got their preferred candidate, cardiologist Larry Buchson, in the “Bloody Eighth” district represented currently by Democratic Senate candidate Brad Ellsworth and formerly by Hostettler. In the neighboring ninth district, former Congresman Mike Sodrel lost his chance for a fifth race against Democratic Congressman Baron Hill. Republicans instead went with attorney Todd Young.
Despite all the anti-incumbent sentiment, the party establishment candidates in Indiana won more than they lost. All the down-ballot activity might have even helped Coats, by bringing low-intensity voters to the polls where the former senator’s high name ID was an asset.
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