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Indiana congressional candidates get 2nd chances

Tom Coyne

Tuesday was a night of second chances in many of Indiana's congressional primary races.

Former state Rep. Luke Messer won the Republican nomination for eastern Indiana's 6th District seat two years after narrowly losing in the 5th District before lines were redrawn. And former Republican state Rep. Jackie Walorski gets another shot at northern Indiana's 2nd District seat after a close loss to Democrat Joe Donnelly in the 2010 general election.

In northeastern Indiana's 3rd District, Trinity Presbyterian Church pastor Kevin Boyd won the Democratic nomination six years after finishing second in the primary. Democrat Tara Nelson _ who finished second in the 2010 primary _ will challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Todd Rokita in Indiana's 4th District in November.

Messer, the former executive director of the state Republican Party, will face Democrat Bradley Bookout of Yorktown for the seat that GOP Rep. Mike Pence is giving up to run for governor.

Both Messer and Walorski said their previous losses helped their campaigns this time around.

"It taught us you can't take anything for granted," said Messer, who lost two years ago to Rep. Dan Burton, who is retiring from Congress this year. "From a strategic perspective, we just ran a campaign soup to nuts. We had yard signs out, worked hard going door to door, making calls. We worked hard to make sure we were clear in our message."

Walorski said she got to work shortly after losing to Donnelly two years ago.

"For us, we learned to stay laser-focused and to build our base," she said. "We have just been systematic in our approach to bring people to the table."

The tea party-backed Walorski will face Democratic candidate Brendan Mullen; both won easily on Tuesday. Statehouse Republicans have shifted the once Democratic-leaning LaPorte County and the city of Kokomo out of the 2nd district, and added in Republican areas of Kosciusko.

Boyd beat out five other Democratic candidates and will run against freshman Republican Rep. Marlin Stutzman in November.

In the 4th District, Nelson, a project manager from Lafayette, will face an uphill battle in the heavily Republican district. Rokita was Indiana's secretary of state for eight years before being elected to Congress with 69 percent of the vote in 2010.

Incumbent Rep. Andre Carson easily defeated three Democratic challengers to win his party's nomination in central Indiana's 7th District.

The Associated Press