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The Journal Gazette

  • Grant

  • Nightenhelser

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 11:11 pm

Candidate fields growing quietly

Brian Francisco | Washington editor

The field of Hoosier congressional candidates for next year’s elections is larger than thought.

With little fanfare, a fourth Republican is seeking a seat in the Senate, and a second Democrat is running in northeast Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District.

They bring to six the number of major-party candidates for each of those federal offices.

Kevin Grant of West Lafayette filed a statement of candidacy for the Senate in June with the Federal Election Commission. He announced his candidacy on his website, grant4congress.com, on March 27, a few days after Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., disclosed he will not pursue re-election to a second straight term, and fourth overall, in 2016.

An Internet search found no news media coverage of Grant’s candidacy.

Todd Nightenhelser of Huntington filed 3rd District statements of candidacy and campaign committee organization early this month with the FEC. He writes on his Facebook page that he was to give his first campaign speech Sunday in Rome City and will announce his candidacy to the media Thursday.

To qualify for primary-election ballots, major-party candidates for the Senate must collect at least 500 certified signatures from registered voters in each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts by Feb. 5. There is no such requirement for House candidates.

Grant says on his campaign website that he is a 45-year-old financial consultant, a captain and helicopter pilot in the Army National Guard and a combat veteran of the war in Iraq. He also says he supports the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump.

Grant sought the Republican nomination in Indiana’s 4th Congressional District in 2014, receiving 29 percent of the vote in his race against incumbent Rep. Todd Rokita. Grant did not file campaign finance reports in that race and writes on his website that he received more than 17,000 votes "without raising any money or spending any money of my own."

Others running for the Senate Republican nomination next year are former state GOP Chairman Eric Holcomb and Reps. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, and Todd Young, R-9th. Together their campaigns had more than $3 million in cash at the end of June.

Vying for the Democratic Senate nomination are former U.S. Rep. Baron Hill and John Dickerson, who used to lead a nonprofit group advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Nightenhelser hopes to replace Stutzman in the House. The owner of TCB Games, a Huntington store that sells video, card and board games, Nightenhelser was the Democratic nominee for an at-large seat on the Huntington City Council in 2011, and he ran for a seat on the Huntington County Community Schools board in 2008.

The other announced Democratic candidate in the 3rd District is Fort Wayne resident Tommy Schrader, who has filed as a candidate in four previous primaries. Chasing the GOP nomination are state Sens. Jim Banks of Columbia City and Liz Brown of Fort Wayne, former Wisconsin state Sen. Pam Galloway of Warsaw and Scott Wise, a former member of the Whitley County Council who is running for Congress for the fourth time.

The 3rd District consists of 10 counties in northeast Indiana and parts of two other counties.

bfrancisco@jg.net