Eight candidates are running in the Republican primary for Indiana’s 8th Congressional District

Eight candidates are running in the Republican primary for Indiana’s 8th Congressional District. Four lead in media attention: John Hostettler (R), Dominick Kavanaugh (R), Mark Messmer (R), and Kristi Risk (R).

Incumbent Larry Bucshon (R), who was first elected in 2016, is not running for re-election. This is the first open race in the district since 2016.

Hostettler represented the 8th Congressional District from 1995 to 2007. In the 2006 general election, then-Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth (D) defeated Hostettler 61% to 39%. Hostettler said he sees parallels between the status of the U.S. now and when he was first elected to Congress. “We have a Democrat president embroiling us in a military conflict in Eastern Europe that presents absolutely no national security interest of the United States,” said Hostettler.

Kavanaugh is a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve and worked in former President Donald Trump’s (R) White House in the Office of Press and Communications. Kavanaugh said he “is running for Congress in Indiana’s 8th Congressional District to bring a fresh perspective from the next generation of Hoosier leaders.”

Messmer is a member of the Indiana Senate and a business owner. He said his legislative experience would help him successfully fight for the district in Congress: “The process is the same. The process is still networking and relationship-building with the people that I’ll be working within the House and Senate.”

Risk chairs the Owen County Republican Party and is a business owner. In 2012, Risk ran against Bucshon in the Republican primary for the 8th Congressional District. Bucshon defeated Risk 58% to 42%. Risk said one way she would fight for constituents in the 8th district would be to build a caucus with Republican members of the Indiana delegation.

Indiana attorney and informal adviser to Bucshon’s early campaigns Josh Claybourn told Courier & Press he believes there will be a geographic divide among support for the candidates: “Risk will have some support near Terre Haute. Messmer will have a nice base of support in his existing Senate [district]. And then, starting out, Hostettler will be able to be competitive districtwide.”

As of March 26, 2024, The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter and Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rated the general election Solid Republican. Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rated the general election Safe Republican.

Also running in the primary are Jim Case (R), Jeremy Heath (R), Luke Misner (R), and Richard Moss (R).