Three Republicans with strong party financial backing won their Indiana House primary races Tuesday, setting up November
matchups with Democrats that could tilt the narrowly divided chamber into GOP hands and decide which party controls redistricting.
GOP-backed candidates Daniel Klein of Crown Point, Rhonda Rhoads of Corydon and Mike Obergfell of Fort Wayne won in districts
that Republican are focused on taking from incumbent Democrats in November.
While more than 30 districts had contested primaries, only a few will figure into the political mathematics that party strategists
will use in the fight to control the House in November.
Rhoads, a former Harrison County Council member, will take on House Majority Whip Paul Robertson of Depauw in southern Indiana's
District 70. Klein, Crown Point's former mayor, will meet Democratic Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh, who won the seat three years
Obergfell, a high school football coach and a first-time political candidate, will face Rep. Win Moses Jr., a former Fort
Wayne mayor and longtime House member.
A fourth GOP-backed candidate, Jud McMillin of Brookville, also won his primary for a rematch with Democratic Rep. Robert
Bischoff, who won the seat by less than 500 votes in 2008.
In another race both parties are targeting, Bionca Gambill of Terre Haute outlasted two other Democrats and will face the
GOP's Bob Heaton in November. Heaton, an insurance agent and former Indiana State basketball player, narrowly lost in
2008 to Democrat Rep. Vern Tincher, who is retiring after 12 terms.
Democrats gained a majority in the House only four years ago and currently have a 52-48 advantage. Whichever party emerges
with a majority after the general election in November wins the right to redraw district maps next year and shape races in
the contentious chamber for the next decade.
"The real race starts (Wednesday)," Kristen Self, campaign director for the House Democratic caucus.
Republicans have a comfortable 33-17 edge in the state Senate, where only seven districts had contested primaries.
With the upper hand in redistricting at stake, the House Republican Campaign Committee poured $165,000 into Klein's primary
run against Frances Katz in a district that includes covers southeastern Lake County and parts of Porter and Newton counties
in northwest Indiana. Klein captured 66 percent of the vote with 95 percent of precincts reporting late Tuesday.
The House Republican committee gave $81,000 to Rhoads, who captured 63 percent of the vote against pilot Brett Loyd of Greenville
with all but one precinct reporting.
"I think we've put two races on the table that are very important to us," said Mike Gentry, the House Republican
committee's executive director.
Moses, who ran unopposed in 2008, will face Obergfell, a football coach at Fort Wayne Dwenger High School with strong backing
from Roman Catholics.
"I think Mike Obergfell is going to be a credible candidate," Gentry said, noting that the GOP has had success
in urban districts during non-presidential election years.
Among Democrats, Ryan Bower of Salem won the primary in District 73, which sprawls across eight southern counties. Incumbent
Rep. Dennie Oxley Sr., D-Taswell, is not running because of illness. Bower will face GOP nominee Steve Davisson of Salem,
who lost by more than 4,000 votes to Oxley in 2008.
"Ryan really went out and worked hard. It's a Democratic seat," Self said.
But two Republican incumbents lost their seats. Freshman Rep. Jacque Clements of Frankfort lost to former Rep. Heath VanNatter
of Kokomo, and Rep. Bill Ruppel of North Manchester lost to Rebecca Kubacki of Syracuse. Kubacki was backed by the Indiana
Chamber of Commerce.
Tim Wesco beat Dave Wood in the GOP race to succeed Rep. Jackie Walorski of Lakeville in a heavily Republican district. Walorski
won her party's nomination for the 2nd Congressional District. Wesco and Wood are from Mishawaka.
Among state Senate primaries, Republican Ron Grooms of Jeffersonville won the GOP primary in District 46, where incumbent
Sen. Connie Sipes, D-New Albany, is retiring. In District 49, where GOP incumbent Bob Deig of Mount Vernon also is retiring,
unofficial results showed Jim Tomes with a 120-vote lead over Andrew Wilson with all precincts reporting and more than 6,000