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6th District GOP debate taking shape

A day after the filing deadline for congressional candidates, a bunch of them will debate one another.

The first in a series of debates for the ever-growing field of candidates for the 6th District Republican nomination has been scheduled for Feb. 11 in New Castle.

Debate moderator and Henry County Council President Nate LaMar said in an email that five primary-election hopefuls have said they will take part -- Don Bates of Winchester, Bill Frazier of Muncie, John Hatter of Columbus, Luke Messer of Shelbyville and Andrew Phipps of Muncie.

That's half the current announced field. Columbus resident Travis Hankins cannot attend, and LaMar said he was waiting for replies from Kristen Foster of New Palestine, Allen Smith of Columbus and T.J. Thompson of Shelbyville.

In the meantime, Indiana Legislative Insight has reported that Madison resident Joseph S. Van Wye Sr. has entered the race to replace Rep. Mike Pence, R-6th, who seeks the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

The filing period for candidates to run in the May 8 primary election began Wednesday and will end at noon Feb. 10. As of Friday, Van Wye, Messer and Frazier had filed with the Indiana secretary of state's office.

The Feb. 11 debate will be part of the Henry County Lincoln Day Dinner at New Castle's Raintree Center. The meal will be at noon, and the debate is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. and last an hour.

The 6th District currently includes southern Allen, Adams and Wells counties. That area will join the 3rd District with this year's primary and general elections.

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