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Democrat Paul Steury, Libertarian William Henry face off in 2nd congressional district debate

Democrat Paul Steury (left) and Libertarian William Henry (center) participated in Tuesday's debate. Republican Rudy Yakym (right) declined.
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Democrat Paul Steury (left) and Libertarian William Henry (center) participated in Tuesday's debate. Republican Rudy Yakym (right) declined.

Two of the candidates for Indiana’s 2nd congressional district, Democrat Paul Stuery and Libertarian William Henry, met Tuesday for the only debate in the race.

But the hour-long event was also notable for who wasn’t there — Republican Rudy Yakym, the likely favorite to win next month’s election, declined to participate.

Steury said he aims to represent all Hoosiers. He mentioned universal health care, immigration reform, voting rights, supporting access to abortion and contraception and addressing climate change as major issues that he wants to work on if elected to congress. But he also said he’s bipartisan and would focus on reaching across the aisle.

“My favorite senator of all time was Richard Lugar,” Steury said. “I disagreed with a lot of his ideas, but I loved that he was a diplomat who was willing to work with others to make America the best it could be.”

In contrast, Henry said he’d focus on reducing the size of government, cutting the federal deficit, implementing a free market approach to health care and social security, supporting veterans and ending American support for Ukraine and all other overseas operations.

He also would like to legalize cannabis, promote medical freedom by eliminating vaccine requirements and supports privacy rights, access to abortion and contraception.

Republican Rudy Yakym, who declined to participate in the debate and is the likely favorite to win the race, was chosen by an Indiana Republican Party caucus to replace the late Rep. Jackie Walorski on the ballot following her death in an August car crash.

The 2nd district has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+14, meaning it typically votes 14 points more Republican than the national average.

Yakym is the director of growth initiatives at Kem Krest, and previously served as finance director for Walorski’s congressional campaign. He also had the endorsement of Walorski’s widower, Dean Swihart.

“Jackie wanted her voice to be heard,” Swihart said during the Republican caucus. “I believe I have the candidate who is capable of continuing Jackie’s legacy, and that candidate is Rudy Yakym — he’s pro-Trump, pro-life and a Christian family man.”

You can listen to the whole debate here:

Indiana's 2nd congressional district debate

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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Jakob Lazzaro comes to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.