Former state Rep. Luke Messer has won the Republican primary to replace GOP Rep. Mike Pence in Indiana's 6th Congressional District.
The Associated Press called the race just after 8 p.m. With 80 percent of precincts reporting, Messer led his nearest challenger, Travis Hankins, 41 percent to 26 percent.
Messer, a former executive director for the state Republican party, was held under 50 percent, but the collection of grassroots-fueled tea party candidates opposing him split the anti-establishment vote. Meanwhile, Messer leveraged his connections to outraise and outspend his nearest rivals while rallying county Republican committees and key party figures, including Gov. Mitch Daniels, to his side.
Messer is the prohibitive favorite to become the next congressman from the 6th District, a strongly Republican seat.
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