AP NEWS

Banks secures decisive victory after tough race

November 7, 2018

Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Banks won re-election to a second term Tuesday, easily defeating Democratic challenger Courtney Tritch.

Banks was attracting 65 percent of the vote to 35 percent for Tritch, widely regarded as the strongest Democratic candidate in northeast Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District in a dozen years. Republicans have represented the 12-county district continuously since 1995.

“From the outset, we knew the intensity on the other side was very strong, and that’s why we never took it for granted,” Banks said Tuesday night in a telephone interview. “We ran a very aggressive and tough campaign as well.”

He said his conservative voting record “clearly resonated with the voters in the district in a strong way.”

Banks was winning nearly 57 percent of the vote in Allen County, by far the most populous county in the district. But he was collecting at least 70 percent of the ballots in the rest of the area, including 77 percent in Wells County and 76 percent in Kosciusko County.

The best-financed Democrat in district history, Tritch raised about 1 million heading into the stretch run.

“Democrats threw everything at it that they had, and that’s a lot of credit to Courtney as a candidate,” Banks said. “So I give her a lot of credit for running a strong race. It serves the district and the voters well to have strong candidates in both parties, and certainly she ran as strong of a campaign as we’ve seen in the 3rd District in a long time.”

Banks received 70 percent of the vote when he was first elected to Congress in 2016, including 65 percent in Allen County, when he ran against two unfunded candidates. 

Tritch said Tuesday night in a statement: “While tonight’s result was not what we had hoped for, this campaign was nevertheless historic. From the beginning, this campaign has never been about me; it was about building a movement in northeast Indiana for positive, pragmatic change. It is my sincere hope that the progress we created will continue long after tonight as the residents of this district continue to use their voices to champion the rights of all people.”

Tritch, 41, is a Fort Wayne marketing consultant and former economic development professional who was running for public office for the first time. She self-identified as the political middle : a fiscal conservative and social progressive who made health care, education and clean energy her top issues : and she has said she did not declare a political party affiliation until choosing to seek a U.S. House seat.

The closest margin for a 3rd District race this century remains Republican incumbent Mark Souder’s eight-point victory over Democrat Thomas Hayhurst in 2006.

Banks, 38, is a former commercial real estate broker from Columbia City who climbed the political ladder from Whitley County Council to the Indiana Senate to Congress, serving in the Navy Reserve along the way. 

“I’m going to stay focused on the issues I’ve been focused on, from national security to veterans’ issues, those have been my top priority in the Congress,” Banks said about his upcoming second term.

He is a member of the House Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs committees as well as the House Education and Workforce Committee.

He said he also will focus “on just being a conservative voice for the district : that’s what this district expects, is a conservative, pro-life voice in Congress. And no matter whether I’m in the majority or the minority, that’s what I intend to be for the next two years.”

In northern Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski of Elkhart won a fourth straight term, getting 57 percent of the vote at last count to beat Democratic challenger Mel Hall of South Bend.

Voters also re-elected Democratic Reps. Pete Visclosky in the 1st District and Andre Carson in the 7th District; Republican Reps. Susan Brooks in the 5th District, Larry Bucshon in the 8th District and Trey Hollingsworth in the 9th District; and Republican candidates Jim Baird in the open 4th District and Republican Greg Pence, the vice president’s brother, in the open 6th District.

Indiana’s House delegation remains the same: seven Republicans and two Democrats.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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