A total of 48 incumbent Indiana legislators seeking reelection — 37 in the House and 11 in the Senate — faced neither primary nor general election opponents as of Friday’s end of candidate filing.
With all 100 House seats and 25 of the 50 Senate seats up for election this year, that means that well over a third are uncontested at this point.
That will change in the coming months. Indiana election law allows party officials to fill vacancies on the general election ballot after the primaries; typically, some but not all of the vacancies are filled by the deadline for doing so, which this year is July 5.
Candidate filing began in the office of the Indiana Secretary of State on Jan. 5 and ended at noon Friday, followed by the posting of the final list of candidates.
The May 3 primary will be the first election in which congressional, state legislative and some county candidates will be running in districts that were redrawn based upon population counts in the 2020 census.
The lines were redrawn in 2021 by the Indiana House and Senate, both of which are controlled by Republican supermajorities. As in many states, the redistricting process in Indiana was widely criticized as gerrymandering that would strengthen the advantage of incumbent legislators of both parties and discourage competition, particularly in the general election.
In addition, critics of the redistricting process have warned that it increasingly discourages cooperation and coalition-building, instead drawing candidates from the extremes of both parties, encouraging competition in the primaries.
A total of 27 incumbent legislators — three in the Senate and 24 in the House, all of them Republicans except for recently appointed Democratic Sen. Rodney Pol — will face challenges in the primary. Sixteen of them — one Republican in the Senate and 15 in the House — face no general election opposition pending the filling of ballot vacancies.
Two of the legislators will face primary challenges from other incumbents of their own party due to the redrawing of district lines. Also as a result of redistricting as well as retirements, a total of 16 seats — five in the Senate and 11 in the House — are open.
Candidate filing for the U.S. Senate seat up for election this year and the nine congressional districts resulted in contests for all. Of the Senate and congressional incumbents, only four — Reps. Jackie Walorski, Jim Banks, Victoria Spartz and Larry Bucshon — will not face primary challenges.
In addition to those offices on the primary ballots, three state offices — secretary of state, auditor and treasurer — will be nominated by party conventions rather than primary voters.
Candidates in school board elections, also on the November general election ballot with some running in newly redrawn districts, can begin filing to run on July 27, and the filing period continues through Aug. 26. — The Indiana Citizen