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Indiana GOP scrambles to retain 3rd District seat

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indiana Republican Party Chairman Murray Clark huddled in a meeting this morning concerning Rep. Mark Souder’s indiscretion and resignation, which they learned of Monday night.

“Not much to say. Surprised and disappointed,” the governor said. “But the congressman did a wrong thing and now he’s done a right thing.”

Daniels also said he didn’t know Souder very well but, “I knew his work. He served his district I think very well, and faithfully reflected in his votes and actions as a congressman the views and the interests of the people up there.”

Clark didn’t speculate on specific candidates for Souder’s immediate replacement, but said he feels strongly about the GOP’s ability to retain the seat.

“I think we have a very strong Republican bench in the third (congressional district),” he said, noting there are GOP legislators, community leaders, other elected officials, and Republican activists and advocates to consider.

Both said they would make further announcements on when a special election would be held to fill the seat when they better understand the complex rules of the situation.

It is Daniels’ job to set a date for a special election and Clark’s job to set two caucus dates for Republicans.

The first would be a caucus of roughly 1,000 Republican precinct committee men and women to choose the Republican nominee for the special election to fill the vacancy.

Democrats also get to choose a nominee – likely to be Democrat Tom Hayhurst, who won the primary and was set to challenge Souder for a second time in the fall.

Republicans will have a second caucus to fill the fall ballot vacancy.

The timing of the election and various caucuses has not been determined.