By Abrahm Hurt
INDIANAPOLIS — Linda Rogers defied the odds when she beat Sen. Joe Zakas, R-Granger, in the May 8 primary election.
“I’m a people person so part of my campaign was reaching out to people to one, introduce myself but secondly I said, ‘What are your issues.? What are your problems?’” Rogers said. “I want to know what keeps people up at night.”
While most of the 21 incumbents who were challenged in Tuesday’s primary easily won their races, Zakas, who is one of the longest-tenured legislators, lost his race by almost 30 percentage points. He ran unopposed four years ago in the heavily Republican district.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to have served the citizens of District 11 in the Indiana State Senate since my first election victory in 1982,” Zakas said in a written statement after declining an interview. “I look forward to continuing to serve until my successor is chosen in the general election on November 6.”
After serving in the legislature for 36 years, Zakas said some of his major accomplishments included helping to establish Indiana’s Amber Alert system and working to improve Indiana’s adoption laws.
“I’m very appreciative of Sen. Zakas’ years of service to the community,” Rogers said. “He has been a friend of mine and throughout the entire campaign we have always stayed very positive and friendly with each other, and I certainly want to thank him.”
Rogers, a golf course and home building company owner, has never held an elected office before, but she has done advocate work for the National Golf Course Owners Association in Washington D.C. She has also spent time in the Indiana Statehouse on behalf of the Indiana Builders Association and the Indiana Golf Course Owners Association.
“I realized I liked doing that and working with the legislators,” she said. “And I thought, you know, it’s time to not just advocate for my industry but to help the community and be an advocate for them.”
She said that if elected she would work to further education and to prepare children to be a part of the workforce.
Data from election results via the Indiana Secretary of State.
“As an employer for 40 years, I’m seeing lots of kids that are not prepared to go into the workforce,” she said. “Even kids that have great GPAs, they don’t have any of the common-sense skills. I think a lot of that is missing in schools.”
She faces Democrat Ed Liptrap in the November election.
In the Indiana House, Rep. Dick Hamm, R-Richmond, was upset by challenger Dr. Brad Barrett. Barrett received more than 67 percent of the vote compared to Hamm’s nearly 33 percent.
Hamm defeated his Democratic opponent by a 61-39 percent margin. He was not available for comment.
Barrett, who was a general surgeon in Wayne County for 25 years, said he decided to get more involved in politics after retiring.
“As a surgeon, I touched a lot of lives and had a lot of contacts,” he said. “It’s certainly a relationship business. I think that name recognition certainly then helped me.”
Barrett said if elected in November’s general election, he would like to work on the opioid epidemic, make improvements to rural living standards and make more progress on workforce development across the state.
Barrett faces Democrat Jeffrey Locke.
Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, was locked in a fierce contest against Corrie Meyer, Carmel’s former redevelopment director, but came away with a win. He received almost 58 percent of the vote while Meyer earned about 42 percent.
Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, won the Republican primary in a hotly contested race Photo by Andi TenBarge, TheStatehouseFile.com.
“We did everything that our campaign set out to do, from a standpoint of pulling resources together, getting volunteers together and making sure our messages were heard,” Meyer said. But it wasn’t enough.
Delph was unable to be reached for comment.
When asked if she would support Delph in the November election, Meyer said, “He’s a Republican, and I support Republican candidates.”
Delph will take on Democrat J.D. Ford in the general election. He defeated Ford by a 54-46 margin in 2014.
Abrahm Hurt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.