U.S. Rep. Jim Banks enjoyed an insurmountable lead Tuesday in the Republican primary election for the 3rd Congressional District.
Banks had received 85% of the partial vote to 15% for challenger Chris Magiera.
Chip Coldiron had a slim edge over Carlos Marcano Jr. in the Democratic primary. With 60% of the vote counted, Coldiron had attracted 33% of the ballots to Marcano's 32%, with Thomas Schrader getting 20% and Jean-Paul Kalonji receiving 15%.
More than 34,500 absentee ballots cast in Allen County will be counted beginning today in nominating contests delayed a month by the coronavirus pandemic. State election officials lifted restrictions on mail-in ballots in a nod to social distancing guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
But Banks was assured of the GOP nomination in his bid for a third two-year term in the House. He received 87% of Allen County ballots cast by machine Tuesday and during early voting.
“It was the strangest election that I've ever been a part of,” Banks, 40, said in a telephone interview. “I didn't know what to expect. Chris Magiera, it appears, will have spent nearly half a million dollars; I'm still unsure what he spends it on other than boosting his nightly Facebook live videos and radio commercials and mail pieces.
“I didn't really run a campaign; I didn't spend any money on advertising,” the Columbia City resident said. “With everything going on in our country, I felt like I needed to be entirely focused on doing my job, and that's what I did. I had no way of knowing what Election Night would look like, but I'm obviously very pleased with the results. I appreciate the confidence that Republican primary voters have put into choosing me once again to be their nominee.”
Banks had raised more than $737,000 in campaign contributions from individuals and political action committees through May 13. Magiera, 64, a gastroenterologist from Warsaw, raised nearly $261,000, nearly all of it from money he lent his campaign.
His wife, Pam Galloway, finished fourth in the 2016 GOP won by Banks.
Coldiron won by large margins in Democratic voting in most of the district's 12 counties, although Marcano captured Allen and Kosciusko counties, the most populous counties in the district. Allen's absentee ballots will decide whether Marcano can close the gap, although Coldiron said he was confident he would do well with those voters.
Coldiron said he was up by 400 votes over Marcano and that Allen County's absentee ballots would extend his lead.
“It's going to be close. ... We reached out to 15,000 voters in the past week. We were getting close to 70% of the mail-in voters,” Coldiron said in a telephone interview.
“I made it a point to go to a lot of county meetings. I made it a point to get signs out to every single county. It's just talking to people,” said Coldiron, 41, a Norwell High School science teacher who lives in Ossian.
Marcano, 34, is tile installer from Roanoke.
Coldiron had raised about $5,500 through May 13, including more than $1,900 of his own money. None of his rivals filed campaign finance reports required of candidates whose contributions or expenditures exceed $5,000. The 3rd District hasn't elected a Democrat since 1992.
In Indiana's 2nd Congressional District, which includes parts of Kosciusko County, fourth-term Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski of Elkhart had received 79% of the vote to 21% for GOP challenger Christopher Glenn Davis of Mishawaka.
Patricia Hackett had received 77% of the partial vote to 23% for Ellen Marks in the Democratic Party's contest between attorneys from South Bend. Hackett finished second in the 2018 Democratic primary.
In other congressional primaries:
1st District: Frank Mrvan led a 14-candidate field for the Democratic nomination for an open seat; Mark Leyva led a six-candidate field for the Republican nomination. Democratic Rep. Pete Visclosky does not seek reelection to the seat he has held since 1985.
4th District: Rep. Jim Baird was unopposed for the Republican nomination; Joe Mackey led a three-candidate field for the Democratic nomination.
5th District: State Sen. Victoria Spartz led a 15-candidate field for the Republican nomination for an open seat; former state lawmaker Christina Hale led a five-candidate field for the Democratic nomination. Republican Rep. Susan Brooks does not seek reelection.
6th District: Rep. Greg Pence led Mike Campbell in the Republican primary; Jeannine Lee Lake led a three-candidate field for the Democratic nomination, setting up a rematch of 2018 general election foes.
7th District: Rep. André Carson led Pierre Quincy Pullins for the Democratic nomination; Susan Smith led a five-candidate Republican field.
8th District: Rep. Larry Bucshon was unopposed for the Republican nomination; E. Thomasina Marsili led a close race in a three-candidate Democratic field.
9th District: Rep. Trey Hollingsworth was unopposed for the Republican nomination; Andy Ruff led a five-candidate Democratic field.