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Indiana Election 2011 | Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations

Republicans in 7th District Campaigning Against Each Other, Carson

There are three Contenders in the 7th District Republican primary this year, hoping to take on incumbent Andre Carson in the general election.

Julia Carson died in December 2007. But the veteran 7th district congresswoman’s legacy lingers over the 2010 Indiana primary. Her grandson Andre Caron now holds the seat. There are three Contenders in the 7th district Republican primary this year. However, the fight is mainly between two candidates. One is just starting his political career, and the other has run for many offices in Indiana.

Thirty-year old Carlos May graduated from Wabash College and also has a degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. May’s ability to speak Spanish helped him get a job in minority outreach on Indianapolis Republican Mayor Greg Ballard’s campaign. May then worked for the mayor in a similar capacity until he quit to run for the Seventh District seat. May says his Mexican-American background gives him an edge in terms of reaching out to growing the Latino population.

“My family has been involved in that community for 16 years now,” he says. “They were literally the first business on west Washington Street that catered specifically to the Spanish speaker.”

May says he may be young and have relatively little political experience, but the same can be said of Andre Carson.

“Andre is not his grandmother. Julia did well in her community, she was loved in her community, she was always there, helping folks out.”

May says general discontent with incumbents also played into his decision to run. May is married and lives in Indianapolis with his wife, Reisa, who is a special education teacher.

Marvin Scott is twice the age of Carlos May. Scott is a professor of sociology at Butler University. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Johnson C. Smith University in Charolotte, North Carolina, and a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. Scott was the Republican candidate for U.S. Senator from Indiana in 2004 against incumbent Democrat Evan Bayh, but lost. He ran for Indiana’s Tenth District U.S. House seat in 1994, and against Julie Carson in 2000, losing both times. Scott also tried to win the Republican nomination for the Tenth District in 1996. He says he’s lost as many elections as Abraham Lincoln did before the president won his first election.

“I think I have the leadership ability and I think I bring the best interests of this community to the forefront and I have lots of experience running,” says Scott.

He also says he’s serving the community already.

“I’m president of the Indianapolis Waterworks,” says May. “I served on the Interstate high speed passenger commission. I’ve started a law school that we plan to open next year.”

Scott’s wife, Dulce, is an Anderson University sociology professor. They have four children and live in Indianapolis.

Abdul Hakim Shabazz is the host of “Abdul in the Morning,” on Indianapolis radio station WXNT. The self-described conservative says he’s not sure Carlos May will win the primary, but he could make some inroads in the Latino community.

“Here’s a block of voters in Marion county, eight to 10 percent, in the 7th District, that no one has ever tapped into or spoken to before, and there’s something to be said for someone to be able to connect language-wise and culture-wise,” says Shabazz.

Shabazz says Marvin Scott is well known in the district, but maybe too well known.

“With all due respect for everything Marvin Scott has done, he’s sort of the perennial candidate,” he says. “It’s like, ‘What’s Marvin Scott running for now?’”

Looking ahead to the general election, Shabazz says under the right set of circumstances, it’s not impossible for a Republican to win in the heavily Democratic 7th district.

“You just need all the stars in alignment and nothing can go wrong, because if you go back in the past and look at when Julia ran, Julia never did as well in off-year elections as she did in presidential elections,” he says.

Seventh District voters can choose between Scott, May and retired Marine Wayne Harmon on primary election day, Tuesday, May 4.