Indiana GOP to Replace Deceased Primary Winner in Congressional Race


The Indiana Republican Party is moving forward with plans to appoint a new GOP candidate after a deceased woman won the primary race for a U.S. congressional seat.

Jennifer Pace won the GOP primary for Indiana’s 7th Congressional District on May 7 with 31.2% of the vote, despite passing away on March 6 from a heart attack. Her name remained on the ballot, and news of her death was not widely reported at the time of the election.

Next week, Indiana Republican Party officials will select a replacement for Pace through a caucus. According to Indiana Code IC 3-10-8-7.5 and 3-13-1-8, precinct committeemen in the 7th District will convene to fill the vacancy.

“The Indiana GOP had 30 days after receiving official notice of a ballot vacancy to hold a caucus. In compliance with that, the caucus will be held on June 22nd,” said Griffin Reid, press secretary and digital director for the Indiana Republican Party, in a statement to Truth Voices.

The chosen candidate will face incumbent Rep. André Carson (D-IN) in November. Carson has served nine terms since a 2007 special election. The district, located entirely within Marion County, includes most of Indianapolis and typically leans Democratic.

Here are some Republicans under consideration for the nomination:

Catherine Ping

Retired Army Lieutenant Catherine Ping received 30% of the vote in the primary, losing to Pace by only 320 votes. Ping, who has run for the 7th District seat four times before, served for 33 years in the United States Army Reserves, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel. She is the owner and president of Data Dudes of Indy, LLC, an IT Network Service Provider business.

Phillip Davis

Phillip Davis, a retired postal worker, received 26% of the vote. A sixth-generation Hoosier and Indiana University graduate, Davis describes himself as a pro-life, pro-business, pro-2nd Amendment, and pro-personal freedom conservative. Despite his candidacy, Davis has expressed support for Ping, acknowledging that the party will likely appoint her.

Gabe Whitley

Gabe Whitley, who ran for Evansville mayor in 2022, has removed himself from consideration for the congressional seat. Whitley, who finished last in the race with 13.2% support, expressed frustration over the election outcome and stated his intention to focus on his personal life and career.

A history of deceased candidates winning elections

Pace’s win in Indiana’s 7th District comes just before Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ) won his primary election in early June, despite passing away from a heart attack in April. He was running for reelection unopposed in a deep blue suburb of New York City. Due to New Jersey’s filing rules, no one could replace Payne in the regular primary before the election. A special primary election is set for July 16 and a special general election on Sept. 18 to select a new member to complete Payne’s term.

Historically, deceased candidates have won elections, such as Rep. Nick Begich (D-AK) in 1972 and Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan in 2000, both posthumously securing victories.

Samantha-Jo Roth
Samantha-Jo Roth
Samantha-Jo Roth covers Congress and campaigns, specifically focusing on the Senate. She previously worked as an on-air correspondent, covering the Florida congressional delegation for Spectrum News. Her reporting on a mysterious disease killing coral off the coast of Florida was nominated for a regional Emmy. She also covered Capitol Hill and national politics for Gray Television.

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