Redistricted Indiana 47th pits two incumbent state senators in the primary

Indiana polls are open 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3.
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 6:58 PM EDT
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FLOYD COUNTY, Ind. (WAVE) - Indiana residents head to the polls for the primary on Tuesday. While the elections won’t be final until the general election in November, many reliably red Southern Indiana districts will make their most consequential decision in the primary.

For some voters, their district will look different, and for some candidates, the same is true.

For example, redistricting between 2011 and 2021 radically changed Indiana Senate District 47. The former boundary lines stretched from DuBois county in the west to Washington and Harrison counties in the east. Population growth divided District 47 and folded in Floyd County.

The new boundaries brought incumbent Republican state senators into the same district to face off in the primary. Furthermore, neither Gary Byrne (R-District 47) nor Kevin Boehnlein (R-District 46) has ever asked for votes in a primary election. Both joined the state senate after their predecessor resigned; Byrne in February 2022 and Boehnlein in November 2021.

Boehnlein has roots in Floyd County. He lives in Greenville and was the City of New Albany’s chief of staff for four years. His career spans political campaigns, local government work, and financial advising.

“What we’ve been given is a great public trust in the state of Indiana that we have a supermajority, but we have to use it,” Boehnlein said. “And that’s the reason why I’m running.”

Gary Byrne is technically District 47′s incumbent. He is a lifelong resident of Harrison County.

“Seventh generation farmer,” Byrne said. “Farm’s been in the family since 1806.”

Byrne’s other passion is hyperlocal government. He has served years on county council and the school board.

“With today’s problems we see in education, I think that’s a very valuable experience,” Byrne said.

Both call themselves conservative. Both believe critical race theory shouldn’t be taught in Indiana’s public elementary, middle, and schools. Both are opposed to abortion rights.

Byrne says his top three priorities if elected would be, stopping the “indoctrination” of children in schools, stopping “oppression” by unelected bureaucrats, and election integrity (specifically, implementing paper ballots).

Boehnlein says his top three priorities would be keeping parents in control of classroom education, banning transgender students from playing on sports teams that don’t reflect their sex at birth, and addressing inflation (specifically by creating jobs).

When asked what sets him apart from his opponent, Boehnlein said “I think folks want someone who’s conservative but they want someone who can get things done and has a track record of getting things done for Southern Indiana.”

Byrne says what sets him apart is his lack of lobby or PAC funding.

“There is a lot of money up in Indianapolis that a senator can take,” Byrne said. “It’s called lobbyist and PAC money. I have taken no money. Not a dollar. I’ll be the same person today that I was yesterday. I can promise that to the voters of district 47.”

Indiana polls are open 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3.

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