Indiana Election Day 2024: Sen. Mike Braun wins GOP nomination for governor

Mark Messmer, Jefferson Shreve, Marlin Stutzman, projected to win GOP Congressional nominations

ByNathaniel Rakich and Geoffrey Skelley via 538 ABCNews logo
Wednesday, May 8, 2024
Sen. Mike Braun wins GOP nomination for governor in Indiana primary
Here's a look at who was on the Indiana primary ballot for 2024. Voters headed to the polls to vote on a new governor and congressional races.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tuesday is election day in Indiana, and there's plenty of action.

Voter turnout was low at a multi-precinct polling place at the Lake County Fairgrounds Tuesday.

That wasn't surprising to election officials who were hoping things would pick up after people got off work.

"We're not seeing a whole lot of people. Our in-person numbers right now are lower than what we've had for early voting," said Michelle Fajman, Lake County, Indiana Board of Elections director.

Some people were frustrated by the low turnout; many see voting as an important right and civic duty.

"It's an important election year; there's a lot of controversy in our country, a lot of division. If you don't vote, you're not part of any solution," voter James Beach said.

At the Lake County election office, absentee ballots were being tabulated throughout the day.

Indiana's primary for governor was the most interesting statewide contest on Tuesday, ABC News reported. And the action was all on the GOP side of the aisle because the solidly red state will likely elect another Republican to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb.

ABC News reports that U.S. Sen. Mike Braun is projected to win the Republican primary in the Indiana governor's race, making him the favorite to win in the general election this fall.

Braun won a Senate seat in 2018 but decided to run for governor instead of reelection this cycle

Braun had three notable challengers for the Republican nomination: former state Commerce Secretary Brad Chambers, current Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and businessman Eric Doden. A fourth, former state Attorney General Curtis Hill, has notoriety but for all the wrong reasons: He lost renomination for his old office in 2020 after allegations came out that he had groped a group of women at a party.

For Braun, the good news was that none of his opponents had broken out from the rest of the pack. In early April, a SurveyUSA/Howey Politics/Indiana State Affairs poll found Braun at 44 percent among likely primary voters, with Crouch, Chambers and Doden all at around 10 percent, similar to the findings in older polls of the race. However, Braun's opponents have certainly put together the resources to push for a breakthrough. Overall, Braun had raised $10.2 million as of March 31, but Chambers had raised more ($12.8 million) and Doden about the same ($10 million) - thanks partly to millions from Chambers's own pocket and Doden's family. Crouch hasn't raised as much (around $7 million post-2020), but she did enter the last weeks of the campaign with $3.1 million in the bank, more than Braun, Chambers or Doden. The field has spent their resources mainly to bring Braun down a peg and promote their candidacies, in particular seizing upon comments Braun made in 2020 following the police murder of George Floyd in which the senator appeared supportive of Black Lives Matter, a conservative apostasy.

The six-way race has been the most expensive primary in state history.

"He (Braun) just seems like one of the better candidates that will keep Indiana on a good track," voter Mark Newhall said.

Indiana voters and election officials worried over possible low primary turnout Tuesday.

Crouch, who has helped lead the state for the past eight years, did not get the endorsement from her boss.

"I like her opinions on going to a 0% tax for the state of Indiana. I think Mike Braun had his time in the sun when he was in the Senate, and it's time for a change of direction," voter Michael Curtis said.

Voter Becky Duncan said she doesn't want the next governor to repeat past mistakes, and she wants to get more women in office.

"That was big on my mind," she said.

Former President Donald Trump won the Republican presidential primary in Indiana.

Turning to the congressional primaries, just one involving an incumbent was competitive, and that's the Republican race in Indiana's solidly red 5th District north of Indianapolis.

ABC News is reporting that two-term U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz is projected to win the Republican primary in Indiana's 5th District. Spartz leads 39% to 33 percent over state Rep. Chuck Goodrich with 92% of the expected vote reporting. It wasn't easy for "Hamlet from Hamilton" - Spartz announced in February 2023 that she wouldn't run for reelection, but changed her mind in February 2024 - but she now stands an excellent chance of returning to Congress in 2025 from her safely red seat.

A third of Indiana's congressional delegation is not running for reelection, leaving three safely Republican open seats - so the GOP primaries there will effectively decide those next members of Congress.

ABC News is reporting that wealthy businessman Jefferson Shreve is projected to win the GOP nomination in Indiana's 6th District, east of Indianapolis, with 81% of the expected vote reporting. Shreve, who poured millions of his own wealth into the race and who recently lost a bid for mayor of Indianapolis, is a shoo-in in the general election to replace U.S. Rep. Greg Pence. With 28% of the vote, he's outpacing fellow Republicans Mike Speedy and Jamison Carrier.

The Associated Press is reporting that former U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman is projected to win the Republican nomination for U.S. House in Indiana's 3rd Congressional District.

The primary for northeastern Indiana's 3rd District has featured an establishment-insurgent battle.

Stutzman was a member of the House Freedom Caucus and helped to oust former Speaker John Boehner during his first stint in the House. Now he's angling for a comeback, as Rep. Jim Banks is running for Senate (Banks is unopposed in that primary).

Former Allen Circuit Court Judge Wendy Davis has outraised Stutzman $1.0 million to $796,000, and she has also benefited from $1.1 million in outside spending from Winning for Women (a group dedicated to electing more female Republicans). Pro-establishment super PAC America Leads Action has also spent $1.8 million against Stutzman. Tea party groups like the Club for Growth and Protect Freedom PAC haven't kept pace, spending a combined $1.2 million for Stutzman or against his opponents.

Yet the biggest fundraiser in the race is actually a third candidate, businessman Tim Smith (who self-funded $1.1 million), but observers believe his chances were damaged by a scandal he's been tied to. A fourth notable, state Sen. Andy Zay, ihas raised $693,000.

Finally, ABC News reports that state Sen. Mark Messmer is projected to win the crowded GOP primary in Indiana's 8th District, which is currently held by U.S. Rep. Larry Buschon. Messmer defeated former U.S. Rep. John Hostettler and several other candidates in a race that attracted significant outside spending.

ABC7 Chicago's Craig Wall and the Associated Press contributed to this report.