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Daniels to schedule special election

WASHINGTON – Northeast Indiana will vote in a special election to pick a new member of Congress who will serve through the end of the year and fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd.

The political parties’ precinct officials will select the candidates who will appear on the special election ballot.

Republicans likely to be candidates for the nomination are two who ran against Souder in the GOP primary two weeks ago – Bob Thomas and Phil Troyer – and state Rep. Randy Borror, R-Fort Wayne.

Democrats are likely to select Tom Hayhurst, who won his party’s nomination two weeks ago against nominal opposition.

Gov. Mitch Daniels will set a date for the special election. Under Indiana election law, he has the discretion about when to schedule it.

Whether Souder’s resignation will give Democrats a leg up is still unclear, political analysts said.

“Souder's resignation is the definition of a game-changer, but I think we've got to wait at least a few days, and let the situation play out, to see if his decision puts the 3rd District at risk for the Republicans,” said Nathan Gonzales, House campaign analyst for the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.

Souder has been in office since 1995, when he beat a three-term Democratic incumbent. The region has been reliably Republican since then.

The candidates for the special election will be selected by the precinct officials of the political parties in northeast Indiana by June 20, Allen County GOP Chairman Steve Shine said.

Thomas, who said he poured his “heart and soul” into trying to defeat Souder, won 34 percent of the vote in the May 4 primary. Troyer received 16 percent.

Troyer said he would be a candidate for the caucus election if Thomas is also a candidate. He said if state Sen. Marlin Stutzman declares his interest, “I would talk to party leaders” before becoming a candidate.

Stutzman was not immediately available for comment.

Borror said he decided after just hours of consideration to throw his hat in the ring, adding, “I’ve always been interested in the seat.”

Shine said the GOP precinct committeemen and committeewoman will also select a candidate for the November ballot at the same time they choose a candidate for the special election. Shine said it could be the same person, or it could be different people.

Niki Kelly of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.