What’s at stake in Tuesday’s primary

The final chance for Bartholomew County registered to have a say in this year’s primary election is Tuesday, when polls are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 18 vote centers on Election Day.

The public’s voice matters a lot this year.

Most notably, this is a presidential election year, and a new president will be chosen because two-term President Barack Obama is prohibited by law from seeking a third term. Results from the Indiana primary will determine who among the Republican and Democratic party candidates is awarded delegates to their party conventions.

No Republican or Democratic presidential candidate has secured yet the required number of delegates to clinch their party’s nomination. That’s why Republicans Ted Cruz and Donald Trump and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have campaigned aggressively in Indiana — with Cruz even stopping Monday at Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor in Columbus.

Indiana voters won’t select their governor until fall, as Republican Gov. Mike Pence and Democratic challenger John Gregg are unopposed in the primary.

But contested races in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives feature multiple candidates wishing to represent Bartholomew County residents in Washington, with Tuesday’s results determining who will be the party nominees.

A lot is at stake locally, too.

Voters will determine the fall candidates for several key county offices contested in the primary: Circuit Court judge, county council at-large, county commissioner District 1 and coroner.

Here are some other things you need to know about Tuesday’s primary:

You must choose

Voters must choose either a Democratic Party or Republican Party ballot for the primary. That means you can vote only for that party’s candidates for the various offices.

The general election in November is different, and voters can choose any candidate they wish.

Why 9?

People casting a ballot in the Republican primary will find names of nine presidential candidates listed. That may be confusing considering that Trump, Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich have dominated the headlines recently and are the only three Republicans left in the race.

The other six presidential candidates on the Indiana ballot dropped out of the race after Indiana’s deadline to withdraw — Feb. 8, according to the Secretary of State’s Election Division — or did not file documents to withdraw as a candidate before the deadline.

What’s the difference?

The primary features races for Bartholomew County Council at-large, and county commissioners in Districts 1 and 3. Five Republicans (Bill Lentz, Michael Lovelace, Matt Miller, Evelyn Pence and Jim Reed) seek three of the six council at-large spots on the November ballot; the three Democratic candidates will automatically advance.

Also, three Republicans (Larry Kleinhenz, Susan Thayer Fye and Jorge Morales) are vying for the nomination for commissioner District 1; no Democrats filed.

Before casting a ballot, it’s important to know what council members and commissioners do.

According to Indiana law, the council is defined as the county’s fiscal body and the commissioners as the county’s executive board.

Commissioners are elected to four-year terms, and some of their duties are:

Controlling, maintaining and supervising county property, including courthouses, jails and public offices

Supervising construction and maintenance of roads, bridges and county buildings

Appointing people to fill positions on boards, commissions and committees, and choosing certain department heads

The council has the final decision regarding county fiscal affairs. Among its duties are:

Approving annual operating budgets of all government offices and agencies

{span data-mce-mark=”1”}Establishing salaries, wages, per diem rates and other compensation for all officials and employees{/span}

Fixing tax rates and establishing levies on all county property to raise needed budgetary funds

Authorizing expenditures of county money

What types of cases?

Two Republicans, Kelly Benjamin and Scott Andrews, are seeking their party’s nomination for Bartholomew Circuit Court judge in the primary; no Democrats filed.

Circuit Court hears adult felony and other criminal cases, adoptions, estates, guardianship, civil collection, mortgage foreclosure, civil torts, civil plenary, paternity action/dissolusion and protective orders, according to the court’s page on the county website.

More contested races

Other key contested races include:

State Representative District 59: Republican incumbent Milo Smith is being challenged by Ryan Lauer and Lew Wilson, while Democrats Dale Nowlin and Bob Pitman seek their party’s nomination.

State Representative District 69: Incumbent Jim Lucas is being challenged by fellow Republican Nancy L. Franke; no Democrat filed.

State Senator District 44: The winner of the GOP primary between Eric Koch and Josh Anderson will face Democrat Linda Kay Henderson in the fall. This seat is open because of the retirement of Brent Steele.

U.S. Representative District 6: Republican incumbent Luke Messer is challenged by Jeff Smith and Chuck Johnson Jr., and the winner will take on one of the five Democratic candidates: Danny Frank Basham Jr., George Thomas Holland, Bruce W. Peavler, Ralph Spelbring and Barry Welsh.

U.S. Senate: The impending retirement of Sen. Dan Coats has fellow Republicans Todd Young and Marlin Stutzman, both congressmen, battling for the GOP nomination. The winner will face Democrat Baron Hill in the fall.

What are the boundaries?

Indiana House District 59 basically represents western, central, southern and a chunk of northern Bartholomew County. District 69 represents a small sliver in the southeastern part. District 57 represents the eastern/northeastern Bartholomew County.

Senate District 44 largely represents southwestern Bartholomew County.

What about other candidates?

Candidates from other parties aren’t on the ballot because June 30 is the deadline for independent or minor party candidates to file for election, and for the Libertarian Party to nominate candidates, according to the Indiana Secretary of State’s Election Division.

On the Web

Follow Election Day developments in Bartholomew County online at therepublic.com, then check back at 6 p.m. Tuesday and throughout the evening for final election results.

Author photo
Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.