By: Casey Smith
Indiana’s governor on Tuesday formally called a special election to fill the congressional seat made vacant after U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, was killed last week in a car crash.
The special election to complete Walorski’s unexpired term will be held concurrently with the general election on Nov. 8, according to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive order. Her position for the current term must be filled under U.S. and Indiana law because the vacancy occurred more than 74 days before the general election.
Republican leaders in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes South Bend and Elkhart, will additionally have to select a nominee to replace Walorski on the general election ballot. She was seeking another term in the heavily Republican district, beginning January 2023.
The congresswoman earned the Republican nomination in May and was slated to defend her congressional seat against Democratic challenger Paul Steury in November.
Who gets to vote for Walorski’s interim replacement and for her successor will vary, however. That’s because some Hoosiers saw their 2022 congressional districts change during Republican-led redistricting.
Some voters in the 2nd Congressional District — as it’s currently drawn — will only be eligible to vote in the special election. Other voters drawn into the district under the new maps can only vote in the November election.
Two state GOP caucuses to select nominees
Both the Republican and Democratic parties will first caucus to decide who to nominate for the special election.
Indiana Republicans will also caucus to select the candidate to fill Walorski’s spot on the ballot in the general election on Nov. 8.
Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer on Tuesday officially called two caucuses of eligible precinct committee members to separately fill ballot vacancies for the both the special and general elections. They’re scheduled to meet Aug. 20 in Mishawaka.
“We are still in shock by the tragic passing of Rep. Jackie Walorski and not eager to talk about the next steps,” Hupfer said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Indiana Code requires us to move much faster than any of us would like.”
While the Indiana Republican Party would generally have 30 days to fill a ballot vacancy, Indiana Code requires a certificate of nomination be submitted to the Indiana Election Division no later than noon, 74-days before the date of the election, meaning noon, Aug. 26.
Indiana Republican Party Caucuses
When: Both will be held at 11 a.m. on Aug. 20
Where: Grissom Middle School, located at 13881 Kern Road, Mishawaka, IN 46544
Democrats nominated Steury for November’s general election at the May 2022 primary. The Libertarian Party’s candidate for the general election was also appointed following the Libertarian Party state convention.
This means the Democratic and Libertarian parties do not need to take any further action to nominate candidates for the “new” congressional district in the general election. The deadlines for an Independent or other minor party candidate to file for November’s general election have already passed.
It’s likely that the same candidate will win both elections. But in the event that two different candidates win the special and midterm elections, the winner of the special election would serve until the end of Walorski’s unexpired term, on Jan 3, 2023. Then, the winner of the midterm election would take office that same day, at the start of the next term.
Who gets to vote
The congresswoman’s northern Indiana district remained solidly Republican after redistricting.
Voters in Elkhart, Fulton, Marshall, Miami, Pulaski, St. Joseph, Starke and Wabash counties will have both the special election and general election for the 2nd Congressional District on their ballot.
These voters will have two decisions to make: who should serve out the remainder of Walorski’s term, and who should serve the following term.
But some voters in Cass County, LaPorte and Kosciusko counties will not have both the special election and general election questions for the 2nd Congressional District on the November ballot. Prior to redistricting, portions of those counties were contained within other congressional districts, making voters there ineligible to participate in the special election.
Only the candidates for the new term of office will appear on the November ballot for voters in other areas of the three counties that are now located in the 2nd Congressional District.
Walorski, a South Bend native, was 58 when she died. She served in the U.S. House of Representatives starting in 2013, and before that spent five years in the Indiana House. She would have been seeking a sixth term this fall.
A special election was previously held in 2010 for Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Fort Wayne, to fill former Republican Rep. Mark Souder’s vacant seat. Souder withdrew his reelection bid shortly following the May 2010 primary after admitting to an affair with a female staffer. A special election was called by then-Gov.Mitch Daniels to be held the same time as the November midterm election, which he said was more less costly for counties and more convenient for voters.