(Indiana's NewsCenter) - Marlin Stutzman took another giant step forward in the race for Indiana's 3rd district House seat. After a highly publicized race, Republicans picked State Senator Marlin Stutzman as their candidate during the party's caucus Saturday. But with one important race down, another tough battle on the road to Washington looms on the horizon.
It was the day the 3rd district congressional candidates had been preparing for - the GOP caucus.
A candidate needed to get the votes of more than half of the committee members present to win the party's nomination. There were 400 votes cast, and therefore in order to reach a simple majority, the person must have received at least 201 votes.
By round two the fifteen original candidates had been whittled down to five, and one stood apart from all others. After the votes from the second round were tallied, the top three candidates received the following number of votes: Ryan Elijah 46, Randy Borror 69, Marlin Stutzman 229.
Former U.S. Senate contender Marlin Stutzman had captured the overwhelming support of the Republican Party.
"I'm honored to be your candidate today," Stutzman told the crowd.
Now that he has the party's nomination, Stutzman faces a tough battle against democrat Tom Hayhurst for the 3rd district congressional seat.
Allen County's GOP Chairman Steve Shine says, "I think now that we have a nominee that dichotomy between the two - the liberal support that goes to Tom Hayhurst as compared to the conservative support that goes to Marlin Stutzman will become more apparent over the next few months. I predict that Marlin Stutzman will trounce Tom Hayhurst in the fall."
After a tough battle between republican contenders, Stutzman says it's now time to focus on the battle ahead. "As republicans in this room, if all of us band together, we will win on November second."
Stutzman's former competitors quickly complied, offering their support going into the general election.
I'll support him in the fall and look forward to him running a great race," said Bob Thomas, who had the fifth highest number of votes.
"Good for him. Congratulations," said fourth place finisher Liz Brown.
But Hayhurst hails from Allen County, where a majority of 3rd district voters live. That could be a challenge for La Grange County state legislator Stutzman.
Shine doesn't think it should, or will, be an issue. "This isn't about where one person resides. It's about where their beliefs are found. The beliefs of democrat Hayhurst as compared to conservative republican Stutzman are quite different."
Hayhurst ran for the seat three years ago against Mark Souder and only lost by eight points. Hayhurst says, "One difference is we're going to work all the harder and citizens are frustrated because things have gotten all the worse when it comes to jobs, good jobs and the quality of jobs both in the last couple of years."
Shine says Stutzman will be good for Allen County and the rest of the 3rd district. "This isn't just about Allen county. It's about the eight counties that comprise the third district and the beliefs of the people in all the eight counties."
Voters will head to the polls to make their final decision, Stutzman or Hayhurst, in the general election on November 2nd.
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