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Schrader Wins Democratic Nomination for Third District House Seat

Lisa Ryan, WBOI News

State Sen. Jim Banks won the Republican nomination for Indiana’s third congressional district. The district covers a conservative area in Northeastern Indiana, giving Republicans a clear advantage.

After the Tuesday night primary, it looks like Republicans have another advantage. Democrats elected a fringe candidate to face off against Banks in November, and party leaders aren't very happy.

His main opponent, Todd Nightenhelser, campaigned with other local Democratic candidates, who said he worked hard to meet constituents. But in an election year where anti-establishment candidates are succeeding, it should be no surprise that Tommy Schrader won the Democratic nomination in Indiana’s third congressional district.

Allen County Democratic Chair Jack Morris isn’t surprised.

“To run a race like that is really difficult and people in the outlying counties who may not get to know and people even here who don’t know those candidates, they vote for a name that’s familiar,” Morris said.

Schrader’s name is familiar, especially to Allen County voters. He’s a perennial candidate who has run for multiple offices over the year. He lost all of the races with the exception of one back in 2011, when he won an at-large nomination for Fort Wayne’s City Council. He was eventually kicked off the ballot due to residency issues.

Allen County Republican Chair Steve Shine says he doesn’t think the Democrats should be proud of their party’s pick. “Tommy Schrader, who is, in my opinion, an embarrassment to the political process and the political party,” Shine said.

But Fort Wayne’s Democratic Mayor Tom Henry had a different take.

“It’s the democratic process at work, and actually you have to really honor a system where anybody can run,” Henry said.

He’ll most likely lose to Republican Jim Banks in the general election, and Morris says that’s exactly why it’s hard to get funding when running in District 3. He cited lack of money as one of the biggest reasons Nightenhelser lost.

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