By TOM COYNE
SOUTH BEND —
Former U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks was elected to Congress on Tuesday, breaking a half-century of Republican male dominance in the state’s congressional delegation.
Brooks won the 5th District seat being vacated by retiring GOP Rep. Dan Burton, becoming the first GOP congresswomen from Indiana since Cecil Harden, who served five terms before losing in 1958. The district includes part of Indianapolis and areas east.
Brooks defeated Democratic state Rep. Scott Reske.
Former GOP state Rep. Jackie Walorski was hoping to join Brooks in Washington. With more than 90 percent of the vote in, Walorski held a slight advantage over Democrat Brendan Mullen.
Indiana has had four Democratic congresswomen, most recently Julia Carson, who held the office 11 years until her death in 2007. Her grandson, Democrat Andre Carson, won a third term over Republican Carlos May in the 7th District seat Julia Carson formerly held.
Two female Democrats lost Tuesday. Shelli Yoder lost to incumbent Republican Rep. Todd Young in southeastern Indiana, and Tara Nelson lost to incumbent Todd Rokita in the district west of Indianapolis.
Elsewhere in Indiana, former state Rep. Luke Messer, a former state leader of the Republican Party and a school choice supporter, won the eastern Indiana seat Mike Pence gave up to run for governor, keeping the seat Republican.
The wins by Brooks and Messer meant two of the three open seats went Republican and Walorski was leading in the other race.
Other incumbents to win Tuesday were GOP Reps. Marlin Stutzman in northeastern Indiana and Democrat Pete Visclosky in the west. Visclosky won his 15th term in Congress to become the senior member of Indiana’s congressional delegation.
Visclosky defeated Republican Joel Phelps in the northwest Indiana district Democrats have held for decades. He replaces retiring GOP Rep. Dan Burton as the state’s senior congressman.
Stutzman and Rokita each won second terms. Stutzman beat Democrat Kevin Boyd and becomes the state’s senior Republican representative, replacing Burton. That’s because Stutzman took office in November 2010 after Mark Souder abruptly resigned, gaining an edge over Rokita and Young.
In the races decided in Indiana, voters opted to keep their districts represented by people from the same party even though a preliminary exit poll conducted in Indiana for The Associated Press indicated financial progress on the home front since the last presidential election has been limited. Nearly 4 in 10 said they’re worse off today than they were four years ago, and about the same number said their family’s financial situation is no better.
Only about a quarter said they are better off today than in 2008.
One of the more closely watched races involves incumbent Republican Rep. Larry Bucshon, who faces a strong challenge from former Democratic state Rep. Dave Crooks in the southwestern Indiana congressional district known as the “Bloody 8th” for its history of contentious races. The seat has changed hands three times since 1995.
Bucshon first won the seat in the Republican-leaning district in 2010 when incumbent Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth vacated it to run for Senate. But Bucshon became more vulnerable this year after Republican state lawmakers redrew congressional lines and included more Democrats in the district.
With more than 90 percent of the votes in, Bucshon held a slight advantage.