Previewing Indiana's House Primaries
The Republican presidential primary may be over, but that doesn't mean up-ballot GOP races will cease to affect House primaries. The battle between Sen. Richard Lugar and Treasurer Richard Mourdock for the Republican Senate nomination will definitely bleed into three big Republican House primaries Tuesday; the extent will help determine who advances.
Besides congressmen running in member-versus-member primaries, six incumbents have won less than 60 percent of the vote in House primaries thus far. Fully half of those endangered members were from Alabama and Mississippi, where conservative voters turned out en masse to vote for Rick Santorum on the presidential primary ballot.
The first place to look for a "Mourdock effect" would be in his home 8th District. Freshman Rep. Larry Bucshon had allayed fears of an upset with a more energetic campaign this spring, but tea party activist Kristi Risk is still dangerous to him. Risk finished fewer than 2,000 votes behind Bucshon in a crowded, open GOP primary in 2010, and now the two are going head-to-head. Risk's frugal, grassroots-focused campaign is difficult to judge even from up close, and no one can be sure Bucshon will press home his many advantages (chiefly fundraising and name recogntion, all tied up in his incumbency) until ballots are cast Tuesday. Risk's greatest advantage is that Mourdock's campaign has ginned up tremendous enthusiasm among the activist types that she needs to turn out, and the district is historically attuned to its activists.