As you are aware, the passing of the Honorable Julia Carson has created a vacancy in Indiana's Seventh Congressional District, necessitating the need for a special election to select a new U.S. Representative for the district to serve out the remainder of the term. Various provisions in the Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Code delegate to the Governor the authority and duty to call a special election by issuing, via Executive Order, a Writ of Election directed to the Clerk of the Court in the counties comprising the congressional district.
The practical effect of the election statutes direct that a date be chosen not sooner than 60 days from today, to give the two major parties time to caucus and select a candidate, to allow election officials to plan and organize a special election, and to give third party candidates time to fulfill ballot prerequisites, as well, should they so desire. Before the writ issues setting the date for the special election, the Governor has asked me to canvass the leadership of the two parties in an effort to achieve bipartisan consensus, if possible, on a date acceptable to all. The Governor is prepared to select any date that the parties can agree is fair and workable to all. The Governor is prepared to select any date that the parties can agree is fair and workable but has asked that I inquire about holding the special election on Primary Day to minimize taxpayer expense.
While Gov. Daniels waited almost two weeks from Carson's death before bothering to seek input from the state's party leaders on the special election, the Democrats aren't wasting any time. They have already announced a district-wide caucus on January 12. State Democratic Chairman Dan Parker tells the Star he is unsure who will run for the seat at the caucus. Candidate filings for the caucus open next week. The only Democratic candidate who has filed a statement of candidacy with the FEC is State Rep. David Orentlicher. On the Republican side, both State Rep. Jon Elrod and probation officer Wayne Harmon have declared their candidacies. Counting 60 days from Gov. Daniels letter today, the earliest possible date for a special election would be late February. By delaying the election until the primary, 7th District voters would be without representation for five months.
A decision to delay the special election to the Primary Day in May may work to the advantage of some candidates and to the disadvantage of others. In addition to Orentlicher, State Rep. Greg Porter and State Rep. Carolene Mays are both interested in the 7th District seat. If these state legislators are not slated for the special election, they might forgo a run in the May primary and, instead, seek re-election to the respective House seats. By setting the Democratic caucus so early, Democrats are clearly trying to force the party to quickly unite behind a single candidate. A losing candidate in slating, however, could still challenge the slated special election candidate in the May primary. Carson grandson, Andre Carson, told reporters today he was seriously considering a run for the seat, which should come as a surprise to nobody. His grandmother supposedly made a death bed endorsement of his candidacy, and he's already sewn up the support of the Congressional Black Caucus and Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan.
On the Republican side, State Rep. Jon Elrod is considered the early favorite, although rumblings persist that others might throw their hats into the ring, including Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, Sen. James Merritt, former 7th District candidate Marvin Scott, attorney Milt Thompson and Jerusalem Post publisher Tom Rose. Elrod would likely step aside if either Brizzi or Merritt jump into the race; otherwise, his candidacy will not be deterred by the entry of others.