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Incumbents in both parties enjoy strong showings in Michiana primaries

The old adage in politics that incumbents get a bump was proven true this primary election with incumbents fending off challengers in a number of races.

Observers across the state had tabs on David Niezgodski’s primary in the state’s 10th senate district after WVPE and other outlets reported on claims of sexual harassment brought against Niezgodski by a former employee.

Though his opponent Tim Swager produced a number of attack ad mailers, Niezgodski cruised through the primary winning 62 percent of the vote. That's nearly the same margin as in 2020 when Niezgodski was also challenged in the primary.

In Republican primaries, incumbent Mike Bohacek bested two challengers in state senate District 8.

In Elkhart County, incumbent Suzanne Weirick won her primary for county commissioner by nearly 19 points against Goshen accountant Steve Boussom and state rep. Joanna King didn’t break a sweat versus challenger Cindi Hajicek in the 49th house district centered around Middlebury.

In the Republican races, each incumbent faced a challenger who tried to present themselves as the more conservative option, but name recognition won out for most voters.

Elizabeth Bennion, a Chancellor’s professor of political science at IUSB, said the trend toward incumbents was clear across the board as only two incumbents lost their primaries in statehouse races.

“People who are regular primary voters and who went out to the polls, they clearly showed a favoritism toward incumbents," Bennion said.

Bennion also figures the lack of upsets makes sense given there was low turnout overall in the state due to both presidential primaries being already done and dusted. A contested presidential primary could have drawn out more people who don't usually vote in primaries and challengers often pick up more votes in those types of environments, Bennion said.

Though he's not the incumbent governor, name recognition played a big role in Sen. Mike Braun's runaway victory in the gubernatorial primary.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.