Luke Messer wanted to follow in Mike Pence’s footsteps in Congress. The Republican is doing so after stomping Democrat Brad Bookout in the race for Indiana’s 6th congressional district.
Messer defeated Bookout 59 percent to 35 percent (155,693 to 93,226 votes), with 97 percent of the precincts reporting as of presstime, according to WISH-TV, The Republic’s news-gathering partner. Libertarian Rex Bell was a distant third with 6 percent (15,512 votes).
Messer said he didn’t cross the finish line with the win, but only started another race. He said the focus now is creating jobs and balancing the federal budget.
Pence’s support helped his campaign, Messer said.
U.S. Congress, District 6
Rex Bell L 4%
Brad Bookout D 32%
Luke Messer R 65%
*Bartholomew County results
“His endorsement to my campaign was big and to the district,” Messer said.
Bookout said “the people have spoken,” but said he believes the way the 6th District boundaries were created favored a Republican candidate.
The decision by Pence to run for governor rather than seek a seventh consecutive term as the 6th District representative set off a scramble for his congressional seat, drawing multiple candidates in the Republican and Democratic primaries.
The district has served a portion of Columbus and Bartholomew County, but starting next year it will represent all of Bartholomew County because of redistricting.
Messer has a background in state politics, but this run for Congress actually is his third. The 1987 Greensburg High School graduate lost in the 2nd District Republican primary in 2000 to Pence. He also lost in 2010 to Dan Burton in the 5th District Republican primary.
Messer was the executive director and chief spokesman of the Indiana Republican Party from 2001 to 2005. He served as the District 57 state representative from 2003 to 2006.
The Shelbyville resident earned a law degree in 1994 and practiced law with an Indianapolis firm after leaving state politics in 2006. Most recently he has been the president and CEO of Hoosiers for Economic Growth, a group that advocates for educational reforms.
Bookout’s bid for Congress followed two successful elections to the Delaware County Council, in 2004 and 2008.
The Yorktown resident is a certified master homebuilder, as well as an economic development and municipal consultant.
Bell has sought political office on multiple occasions, although unsuccessfully. The Hagerstown resident and building contractor lost elections for the Wayne County Council (2002), Wayne County Commissioner (2004) and state representative District 54 (2006, 2008 and 2010).
In other congressional races across Indiana:
Democrats Andre Carson (7th District) and Peter Visclosky (1st District) were re-elected — Carson to a third term and Visclosky to a 15th.
Republicans Todd Young (9th District), Todd Rokita (4th District) and Marlin Stutzman (3rd District) were re-elected to second terms.
Republican Susan Brooks, the 5th District winner, is the first woman the GOP has sent to Congress from Indiana in 54 years.