Luke Messer ’91 emerged victorious on Tuesday night with a big win in the primary. He’s the frontrunner to succeed Mike Pence in the 6th Indiana Congressional District in November. Here’s the story from the Indianapolis Star.
Messer conquers crowded Republican field in 6th District
10:08 PM, May. 8, 2012
Written by Chris Sikich
Former state GOP executive director Luke Messer held off a furious grass roots campaign from political outsider Travis Hankins to win the Republican primary for the 6th Congressional District.
“I think in the end,” Messer said, “the biggest difference between us and the rest of the field was experience and a proven record of results on conservative principles.”
With all of the precincts reporting, Messer won 40 percent of the vote in a large GOP field. Just after 8 p.m. Hankins, the runner up with 29 percent, sent an e-mail to supporters, conceding he would not be going to Congress.
Messer is the frontrunner in the heavily GOP 6th District in November. Bradley T. Bookout won the Democratic primary in a 5-candidate field. Bookout is a former Delaware County councilman.
On the Republican ticket, Messer had the political backing, the campaign cash and the name recognition to be considered the frontrunner. All Travis Hankins had was a phone — and the will to win.
Hankins, a Columbus-based real estate investor, never has held political office. But afterhe said he personally called more than 19,400 voters in the past year, he emerged as a serious candidate.
“We worked as hard as we could to talk to the people,” Hankins said. “At the end of the day, we can say we held our head high and did it the right way.”
Messer entered the race hoping newly drawn boundaries gave him a hometown advantage after unsuccessfully trying to topple Dan Burton in a crowded field in the 5th Congressional District primary two years ago. Messer finished second despite the fact his Shelbyville home was in the far southeastern corner of a district that stretched largely north of Indianapolis.
But in the last weeks, a sea of Hankins’s signs filled thousands of yards in a 6th District that stretches across parts of 19 counties. Messer quickly countered with a $50,000 loan to his campaign, an endorsement from Gov. Mitch Daniels and a wave of negative advertisements painting Hankins as a tax-and-spend liberal.
Having raised $191,699 and largely spending it on those yards signs, Hankins couldn’t react with a last-minute mailing of his own. Hankins, who maintains he is more conservative than Messer, had hoped those personal phone calls would pay off. He’s unsure what his next step will be, or if he will seek political office again.
Don Bates Jr., Richmond; Bill Frazier, Muncie; Joe Sizemore, Metamora; and Joseph S. Van Wye, Madison; also were seeking the GOP nomination.
Allen K. Smith II and John Hatter also appeared on ballots, but they had dropped out of the race and endorsed Messer.
In the Democratic field, Bookout led over Don Bolling, Centerville; Jim Crone, Hanover; Susan Hall Heitzman, North Vernon; and George T. Holland, Rushville.