Photo: Fred Thompson (Flickr)
The race for Indiana’s 5th congressional district is a crowded one, with ten candidates on the ballot between the two major parties.
The 5th congressional district’s Republican primary was already shaping up to be a crowded one. But when incumbent Dan Burton announced his retirement, the race got considerably busier. Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold says he was asked to run for the seat four years ago but only decided to enter the race once Burton retired.
“Why run against somebody who’s doing the things that you’d want him to do? Had we hoped he’d retire at some point? Yeah, absolutely. But we weren’t going to do that until after he did,” Seybold says.
Questioning A Candidate’s Residency
Former congressman David McIntosh entered the race last summer and with Burton out, McIntosh is counting on his service in Congress to help him win another term.
“It’s been pretty positive because people understand that I know how the place works so I can really make a difference,” he says.
But McIntosh has been dogged in the campaign by claims about his residency. After serving in Congress, McIntosh lived for some time in Virginia, and some of his opponents argue he’s not a Hoosier resident any longer. But McIntosh says Indiana’s always been his home.
“One of the things we’ve been doing is telling people about my Hoosier roots growing up in Kendallville, that I live in Anderson now and have an Indiana driver’s license,” he says. “You wouldn’t tell that from the mail that people are sending out.”
The other top GOP fundraiser is former U.S. attorney Susan Brooks, who bashed an absent McIntosh on his residency in a debate in April.
Experience And Campaign Spending
Brooks is running on a platform highlighting the fact that this is her first political campaign.
“They are not looking for career politicians,” she says. “They are not looking for people who have been elected many times to many offices or who have run for many offices many times.”
Former Marion County coroner John McGoff is no stranger to the 5th district race. He ran against Burton in 2008 and 2010. He says he is not concerned that he’s getting outspent by McIntosh and Brooks.
“In 2008, Dan Burton outraised me five to one and yet we nearly beat him,” McGoff says. “So it shows you that money isn’t everything.”
McGoff takes an opposite tack from Brooks, saying his past experience as a candidate in the district helps set him apart from the pack.
“We’ve been at this now for five years,” McGoff says. “We’ve banged, I have banged personally on over five thousand doors and attended five hundred events so I’m out there listening to what the people are saying.”
Seybold says, as mayor of Marion, he understands better than any other candidate what people on a local level are looking for.
“This isn’t just about, you know, some of the larger cities in the community,” Seybold says. “It’s about every city in the district. And we hope that’s going to, you know, give us a better understanding of what people want and what their fears are and what their concerns are and take that to Washington.”
Brooks says though her time as U.S. Attorney often gets top billing on her résumé, it’s her recent experience working at Ivy Tech Community College that’s helped her connect to the issue people care about most: jobs.
“I’ve been talking with employers as well as the unemployed on what we need to do to move this economy forward, what does government need to do to get out of the way so that businesses can create jobs,” she says.
Brooks, Seybold, McIntosh and McGoff are running against attorney Jack Lugar, software consultant Jason Anderson and business analyst Bill Salin. Indianapolis-Marion County police officer Matthew Mount will appear on the ballot but withdrew from the race after filing day.
Looking To The General Election
Whoever emerges from the Republican primary will likely face state representative Scott Reske in the fall. The retired Marine Corps colonel and small business owner says his 11 years in the Statehouse has helped prepare him to represent the 5th district.
“If you drew a line between my home in my state rep area district to where our family business is, and within 15 minutes is 85 percent of our voters,” Reske says.
Reske, who has been endorsed by the state Democratic Party, is widely expected to beat challenger Tony Long in the primary.