Rep. Brooks’ Retirement Heats Up U.S. House Race Speculation

(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana hasn’t had a competitive U.S. House race in eight years. Democrats think Republican Susan Brooks’ retirement could change that:

Brooks won reelection last year by 14 points, but that was the narrowest margin in the district since 1980, when its contours were dramatically different. National Democrats were targeting the seat even before Brooks announced she wouldn’t run.

State Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer says he’s confident the eventual nominee will hold the seat, though he doesn’t know who that nominee will be. Hupfer says he’s not recruiting anyone to run, but says the eight county chairs in the district have been talking to potential candidates. He says at some point, they may confer to see if they can coalesce around anyone.

Democrats note Senator Joe Donnelly carried the district in his losing reelection bid against Mike Braun last year, but Hupfer says there’s a big difference between accomplishing that as an incumbent senator and trying to duplicate it as a House candidate trying to win the seat. And he argues Republicans will enjoy coattails Braun didn’t have last year, with President Trump and Governor Holcomb on the ballot.

Democrats across the ballot cut into Republicans’ traditional margins in suburban Hamilton County, but Donnelly’s success in the district rested primarily on big margins in northern Indianapolis.

Brooks’ challenger Dee Thornton carried those precincts too, by 16 percentage points — a big improvement over Democrats’ 2016 performance. But Brooks essentially matched or increased her margins in five of the other seven counties, and won all seven by 22 points or more.