Indiana's Fifth Congressional District Primary Turns Dire in Final Days – Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather | Indiana traffic

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — A senior Republican official said Thursday the spending in a primary election was “unbelievable” but he wasn't surprised by the negative campaigning.

The Republican field for Indiana's Fifth Congressional District — which stretches from the border of Marion and Hamilton counties north to the city of Marion — grew steadily over the winter as U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz signaled she would not run for another term would.

Then, just days before the filing deadline, Spartz announced she would run after all.

Spartz faces a total of eight challengers, led by Representative Chuck Goodrich. Campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission shows the district's Republican primary is the most expensive statewide congressional election this cycle in terms of spending.

The nine candidates spent a total of nearly $6.7 million. Almost all of that — just over $6.1 million — came from the Spartz and Goodrich campaigns. FEC data shows Goodrich alone spent about $4.1 million, nearly twice as much as Spartz.

Spartz campaign spokesman Dan Hazelwood said that while he was surprised by the overall level of spending, he was not surprised that his team had to spend more than $2 million to counter Goodrich.

“She was very insistent about comparing his record with her own,” he said. “We continue to criticize his election results while he continues to attack their patriotism.”

Shortly after the end of the legislative session, Goodrich launched attack ads targeting Spartz's support for aid to her native Ukraine in the ongoing war with Russia. Spartz's campaign responded with an attack on Goodrich's voting record.

Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Mario Massillamany says negative publicity is inevitable when someone puts an incumbent on trial. He says the level of spending in the race is incredible but not surprising.

“When people talk about how negative this campaign was, I expected that,” he said. “In a race where you’re trying to take on the incumbent, you have to show voters why they shouldn’t vote to keep the incumbent in office.”

Massillamany says Goodrich needs to spend more money because he doesn't have the name recognition that Spartz has because of his time in office.

Despite all the spending, early voting turnout in Hamilton County was extremely low. Election officials told News 8 voter turnout was less than 4% as of midday Thursday.

Early voting continues this weekend and ends at noon on Monday. Polling stations open at 6 a.m. local time on Tuesday and remain open until 6 p.m. local time. Anyone standing in line after the polls close can cast their vote.

Massillamany said officials from other campaigns in the race told him they were pleased with the low turnout because it meant a better chance of winning.

“If they can reach out to their supporters and get them to show up, they have a chance if they only get 15,000 to 20,000 votes,” he said.

Hazelwood said Spartz isn't worried about the low turnout. Although Republican voters in the district have a crowded congressional and gubernatorial race, the presidential primary is not contentious. He says this determines people's voting decisions more than anything else.

Goodrich's campaign released a statement:

“The Goodrich for Congress campaign has focused on Chuck's conservative record and sought to educate voters about Congresswoman Spartz's voting record. She tells the District one thing and then votes the opposite in Washington, DC.”

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