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Notes on the election

Gary Varvel | Indianapolis Star

A Fort Wayne native won the closest congressional race in Tuesday’s primary, barely capturing the Republican nomination in the 5th U.S. House District. Incumbent Dan Burton didn’t seek re-election, and the open seat drew eight candidates.

Susan Brooks, a former U.S. attorney, defeated runner-up David McIntosh – a Kendallville native, former congressman and gubernatorial candidate – by fewer than 1,000 votes out of more than 100,000 cast. McIntosh finally conceded the race Tuesday night and apparently will not seek a recount. Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold finished fourth.

Brooks is an excellent candidate, and McIntosh hurt himself by blatantly misleading voters on Brooks’ position on abortion – she is opposed – and refusing to address issues about his residency.

Few surprises

Perhaps the biggest surprise in northeast Indiana primary races was the lack of any real surprises.

Though Richard Mourdock’s defeat of Richard Lugar was certainly monumental, people who had been following the race had come to accept that was the direction it was heading.

Locally, one of the most noteworthy races was between incumbent county Commissioner Nelson Peters and county Recorder John McGauley, a former employee of the commissioners and – until this year – someone viewed as a Peters ally. While many county Republicans expected Peters to win, the margin was huge – Peters won 76 percent in a three-way race that also included William Phillips, a political unknown.

Peters ran an exceptionally strong campaign, certainly much better than in 2007 when he was upset in the mayoral primary by Matt Kelty.

McGauley still has two years left in his second and final term as recorder.

Out of office

While McGauley has two years to contemplate his political future, two northeast Indiana Republican officials who unsuccessfully sought other positions will be out of office at the end of the year.

Paul Moss, who opted to run for state representative instead of re-election to Allen County Council, lost to Ben Smaltz, a veteran DeKalb County councilman. While Moss prevailed in Allen County, DeKalb voters overwhelmingly chose Smaltz.

They were seeking the nomination to run for House District 52, an open seat that became vacant when David Yarde decided to run for state Senate instead of re-election as a state representative. But incumbent Sen. Sue Glick easily defeated Yarde.

Lugar’s swan song

After his defeat and concession speech Tuesday night, Lugar issued a remarkable statement that took aim at Mourdock’s my-way-or-the-highway approach to governing and the general deterioration of decorum in Washington. (See opposite page.)

“Unfortunately, we have an increasing number of legislators in both parties who have adopted an unrelenting partisan viewpoint.” Lugar wrote. “This shows up in countless vote studies that find diminishing intersections between Democratic and Republican positions. Partisans at both ends of the political spectrum are dominating the political debate in our country.”

Compare Lugar’s words with similar comments uttered a little more than two years ago:

“For some time, I have had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is too much partisanship and not enough progress. Too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving.”

Those words came from Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh in announcing he would not seek re-election.

School votes

While a referendum on spending $88 million on East Allen County Schools went down in flames, voters in other Indiana school districts demonstrated solid support for their schools.

In addition to Fort Wayne Community Schools’ successful referendum, voters in Wells County approved a $14.9 million tax levy to renovate Norwell High School. In Crawfordsville, 80 percent of voters favored a $35 million plan to replace a middle school. Zionsville voters approved a property tax increase to help finance school operating expenses. Higher taxes for operating expenses were also approved in referendums for Oregon-Davis Schools in Starke County and Duneland Schools in Porter County.