By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Most incumbent Republicans in Madison County are facing primary election opposition from candidates aligned with the local tea party organization, the party chairman said Friday.
Filing for the May 6 primary closed Friday at the Madison County clerk’s office with the line of people extending outside the office and down the hall. A total of 75 people filed declarations of candidacy on Friday.
For the Republican Party there are contested primary nominations for every county office except for the two judge posts, prosecuting attorney and county assessor.
“This is not a surprise,” Russ Willis, chairman of the Republican Party, said. “There seems to be a group of people who have a different ideology and want to express themselves through the Republican Party. The primary is where that happens.”
Willis said the challengers to the GOP incumbents in office appear to align themselves with the local tea party organization.
It’s a battle the party has had in the past, he acknowledged.
“I was hoping we could avoid it,” he said. “We have a group of good incumbents that have been working for the people of the county.”
Willis said he didn’t know if the party organization would endorse candidates in the primary.
“We will look at all options as a party,” he said.
While Republicans have a plethora of contested races, voters in the Democratic Party will be determining nominees in four national and county offices.
Ludy Watkins, chairman of the Madison County Democratic Party, said she was pleased that the party was able to find candidates for most local offices.
"I was working on finding candidates for clerk, prosecutor and the two judge," she said. "It's hard to do."
Watkins said the only surprise on Friday was in the filing for the sheriff nomination by Jeff Hardin.
"It's up to the voters," Watkins said if the party will slate a field of candidates.
A total of six candidates, three in each party are seeking the respective nominations to be the next sheriff of Madison County. Incumbent Democrat Ron Richardson is ineligible to seek a third term.
On the Republican side of the ballot Sam Hanna, Bruce Dunham and Tony Boze are all seeking the nomination. The three Democrats seeking the office are Brian Bell, Scott Mellinger and Hardin. Hardin, currently serving as the Middle District commissioner, filed his declaration of candidacy on the last day.
Voters will determine which candidates will be seeking the 5th District seat in the U.S. House in the November election.
Incumbent Republican Susan Brooks, seeking a second term, is being challenged by Carmel businessman David Stockdale, who has been courting support from tea party organizations in the district. David Campbell is a third candidate in the race.
Democrats Allen Davidson, David Ford and Shawn Denney are vying for the party’s nomination to run in the heavily Republican district.
First-term Republican Steffanie Owens is being challenged by John Smith for the party’s nomination for the South District seat on the Board of County Commissioners. The winner will be opposed by Deena Watkins.
Two Democrats are vying for the nomination for Madison County treasurer. Kathy Mougeotte is making her first bid for political office against Tamie Dixon-Tatum, who has run for elective office previously.
Three Democrats are vying for the party’s nomination in the 3rd District on the Madison County Council, a seat in which incumbents John Bostic and Buddy Patterson are not running. The latest redistricting placed both Bostic and Patterson in the same district.
Larry Symmes, Paul McClish and Fred Reese are seeking the nomination.
Republicans have a primary battle for the District 2 seat on the council between Steven Sumner and Mike Phipps. The winner will be challenged by Democrat Adam Jones.
Bostic is running for the Democratic Party nomination for Anderson Township trustee opposing Barbara Johnson. The winner will be challenged by Republican Phil Herbig. Brenda Jones, current trustee, is not seeking re-election.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.