Crusader Staff Report
North Township Trustee Frank J. Mvran emerged victorious in Indiana’s Primary, beating a crowded field of 14 Democratic candidates seeking to replace longtime Congressman Pete Visclosky in the First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Elections staff were still counting batches of mail-in ballots late Tuesday and it is uncertain whether they will be completed this week because of the high number of voters who opted not to go to polls because of the coronavirus.
But unofficial results Tuesday night from Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties showed Mvran ahead by a margin probably sufficient to maintain his lead after the deluge of mail-in ballots is fully counted.
In one news report, Mvran said Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., the apparent second-place finisher, and Valparaiso attorney Jim Harper both called to concede the race and congratulate him on his seeming victory.
Mrvan’s supporters celebrated the victory inside the Sage-Popovich Hanger at the Gary Chicago International Airport.
The Indiana Primary was originally scheduled for May, 5, but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mail-in balloting to all Indiana voters, was among many things that made this campaign like no other.
The son of longtime state Senator Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, Mvran was endorsed by Visclosky and the United Steelworkers union, on March 7.
“I know that Frank Mrvan will fight with each breath and every fiber of his being to further collaborate and implement his vision for the next transformational initiatives that will bring the people of Northwest Indiana together in order to grow our regional economy, create more good-paying jobs and improve our quality of place,” Visclosky said at the time.
Mrvan said upon launching his campaign that his goals in Congress include supporting and protecting organized labor in Northwest Indiana, helping residents in need, working to boost the area’s economy, and advancing transformative projects, such as the South Shore Line expansion, to give people more reasons to move to or stay in the Region.
“This is something I have always wanted to do. I have prepared myself my entire career by caring about people, by looking out for children, by being there when the unions were on strikes,” Mrvan said. “There are multiple ways that I have proven that I care about our district.”
The election results for state and county races in Indiana were not posted Tuesday evening.
State Representative Ragen Hatcher squared off against challenger and Gary resident Jessica Renslow in a rematch of the 2018 election. Hatcher won that election by nearly 1,300 votes. The district includes Gary’s downtown and east side, Lake Station, New Chicago and parts of Hobart.
An attorney and former Gary councilwoman, Hatcher is the daughter of Richard Gordon Hatcher, Gary’s first Black mayor who died last December. Last year, Hatcher considered running for state Senator Eddie Melton’s seat after he launched his campaign for Indiana governor. Melton dropped out of the race and decided to seek reelection in his old seat.
Melton ran unopposed and automatically won the Democratic nomination in Tuesday’s Primary. There are no Republican challengers who will run against Melton and State Representative Vernon Smith in the General Election in November.
In Lake County races, East Chicago residents Perry Jackson, Jr. and Samuel Smith, Jr. are among four candidates who seek to replace outgoing Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey, who cannot seek reelection because of term limits. She is running for Lake County Recorder. Her son, Clayton Frey, is running as a candidate to succeed his mother as Lake County Coroner.
In January, Frey was investigated after she was accused of using her work email to publicize her son’s entry for the Lake County Coroner’s race.