Jim Baird defeats Steve Braun, Diego Morales in U.S. House GOP primary race

Indiana state Rep. Jim Baird has defeated Steve Braun, former commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, to gain the Republican nomination in Indiana’s fourth congressional district.

Baird earned 36.1 percent of the votes in the race, with Braun winning 29.6 percent of the votes and Diego Morales winning 15.2 percent.

He will take on Democrat Tobi Beck, who won a six-way primary with 34 percent of the vote. They are vying to take over the seat that will be vacated by Todd Rokita, who lost Tuesday in the GOP Senate primary.

The Associated Press called the race for Baird around 9:30 p.m. Braun has conceded.

"I’m thrilled to learn my friend & former colleague from the statehouse State Rep Jim Baird has pulled off the upset of the night in Indiana,” U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd District, wrote. He also cheered Baird’s record as a "Vietnam veteran and patriot."

Baird, who has served in the Statehouse since 2010 and represents Putnam, Clay, Morgan, Owen and Park counties, is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War.

The primary race turned nasty just days before Election Day as an election ad attacking Baird went out, stating that his vote to raise the gas tax cost Hoosiers an arm and a leg. That struck a nerve with voters because Baird lost his left arm serving the Vietnam War.

State Sen. Jim Merritt said that made a difference. "No one can dispute the idea that flyer that came out last week that talked about the gas tax and arm and a leg, that had to rub people wrong," he said. "It looks like Steve Braun paid for it in a loss."

The district leans heavily Republican, giving Baird the edge in the general election. The National Republican Congressional Committee issued a statement late Tuesday saying he "will serve the people of Indiana well as a tireless advocate for our veterans and true conservative principles."

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