Written by Ashton Snyder on
 June 17, 2024

Indiana GOP Seeks Replacement After Deceased Candidate Wins Primary

The Indiana Republican Party faces a unique challenge as they prepare to replace Jennifer Pace, a candidate who won the GOP primary for Indiana’s 7th Congressional District posthumously.

Jennifer Pace secured victory in the GOP primary on May 7 despite having passed away on March 6 due to a heart attack.

Washington Examiner reported that Pace, 59, won with 31.2% of the vote. Her death was not widely reported before the election, and her name remained on the ballot. This unusual circumstance has led to a mandated replacement process under Indiana Code, IC 3-10-8-7.5, and 3-13-1-8. The caucus to select her replacement will convene on June 22.

Republican Officials Scramble for Replacement

Indiana Republican Party officials, including Griffin Reid, announced the upcoming caucus to address the vacancy. Reid stated, “The Indiana GOP had 30 days after receiving official notice of a ballot vacancy to hold a caucus. In compliance with that, the caucus will be held on June 22nd.”

The chosen candidate will challenge incumbent Rep. André Carson (D-IN) in the November election. Indiana’s 7th Congressional District, which encompasses Marion County, is known for its Democratic majority.

Catherine Ping Emerges as a Leading Candidate

Catherine Ping, who received 30% of the primary vote, is considered a frontrunner for the nomination. She lost to Pace by 320 votes. Ping, a seasoned candidate, has previously run for the 7th District seat four times (2008, 2012, 2014, 2016) and has served 33 years in the United States Army Reserves.

Phillip Davis, another contender who received 26% of the primary vote, is a retired postal worker and a sixth-generation Hoosier. He expressed his support for Ping, saying, “I imagine the party will appoint Cat Ping to fill the position. I support Cat wholeheartedly and hope she takes down Andre Carson. It’s time for him to go home.”

Gabe Whitley Withdraws from Consideration

Gabe Whitley, who garnered 13.2% of the primary vote, has announced his withdrawal from the race. Whitley stated:

After deep consideration and talking with my supporters I will not be running in the special election. The voters deserve the dead person to represent them. I am young and I will focus on my life, my career, and starting my own family.

The precedent of deceased candidates winning elections is not unheard of. Notable instances include Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ) in June, Rep. Nick Begich (D-AK) in 1972, and Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan in 2000. These cases highlight the complexities and unique scenarios that can arise in the electoral process.

Upcoming Caucus and the Path Forward

As the caucus date approaches, the Indiana Republican Party is focused on ensuring a smooth transition. The process will determine who will represent the party in the November election against Rep. Carson. This situation underscores the importance of clear communication and procedural adherence in the electoral system.

The upcoming caucus is expected to be a pivotal moment for the Indiana GOP, shaping the party’s strategy and approach for the general election. The replacement candidate will need to garner significant support to compete in a district with a strong Democratic presence.

In conclusion, the Indiana Republican Party is preparing to replace Jennifer Pace, who posthumously won the GOP primary for the 7th Congressional District. The caucus to select her successor will be held on June 22. Catherine Ping is a leading candidate for the nomination, with strong support from Phillip Davis.

Gabe Whitley has withdrawn from consideration. This situation highlights the unique challenges and precedents in the electoral process. The chosen candidate will face incumbent Rep. André Carson in the November election, representing a significant test for the Indiana GOP in a predominantly Democratic district.

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