SOUTH BEND — Former U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks and former state Rep. Jackie Walorski were elected to Congress on Tuesday, breaking a half-century of Republican male dominance in the state's congressional delegation, and incumbent GOP Rep. Larry Bucshon survived a heated challenge.
Brooks said she wants to become a symbol for other women.
"I hope this inspires a lot of girls and a lot of women to think about running for office whether it's at the school board level, the county council level all the way through state-level races or federal races," Brooks said.
Brooks won the 5th District seat being vacated by retiring GOP Rep. Dan Burton, and Walorski won the 2nd District seat she lost two years ago to incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly, who won a U.S. Senate seat Tuesday.
Walorski, who began running again shortly after losing two years ago, won by less than 4,000 votes and didn't give her victory speech until shortly before midnight after Democratic political newcomer Brendan Mullen, an Iraq War veteran, conceded.
"I'm honored and humbled to be the congresswoman-elect," Walorski said. "This has been an unbelievable journey and it's been an unbelievably long night tonight."
They become the first GOP congresswomen from Indiana since Cecil Harden, who served five terms before losing in 1958. The district includes part of Indianapolis and areas east.
Brooks defeated Democratic state Rep. Scott Reske. Walorski beat Democratic political newcomer Brendan Mullen, an Iraq War veteran.
Indiana has had four Democratic congresswomen, most recently Julia Carson, who held the office 11 years until her death in 2007. Her grandson, Democrat Andre Carson, won a third term over Republican Carlos May in the 7th District seat Julia Carson formerly held.
Two female Democrats lost Tuesday. Shelli Yoder lost to incumbent Republican Rep. Todd Young in southeastern Indiana, and Tara Nelson lost to incumbent Todd Rokita in the district west of Indianapolis.
Elsewhere in Indiana, former state Rep. Luke Messer, a former state leader of the Republican Party and a school choice supporter, won the eastern Indiana seat Mike Pence gave up to run for governor, keeping the seat Republican.
The wins by Brooks, Walorski and Messer means the Republicans gained a seat in the Indiana delegation, giving the GOP a 7-2 advantage.
Bucshon beat former Democratic state Rep. Dave Crooks to win a second term in the southwestern Indiana congressional district known as the "Bloody 8th" because of its history of close and competitive races.
Other incumbents to win Tuesday were GOP Reps. Marlin Stutzman in northeastern Indiana and Democrat Pete Visclosky in the northwest. Visclosky won his 15th term in Congress to become the senior member of Indiana's congressional delegation.
Visclosky defeated Republican Joel Phelps in the northwest Indiana district Democrats have held for decades. He replaces retiring GOP Rep. Dan Burton as the state's senior congressman.
Stutzman and Rokita each won second terms. Stutzman beat Democrat Kevin Boyd and becomes the state's senior Republican representative, replacing Burton. That's because Stutzman took office in November 2010 after Mark Souder abruptly resigned, gaining an edge over Rokita, Bucshon and Young.
In the races decided in Indiana, voters opted to keep their districts represented by people from the same party even though a preliminary exit poll conducted in Indiana for The Associated Press indicated financial progress on the home front since the last presidential election has been limited. Nearly 4 in 10 said they're worse off today than they were four years ago, and about the same number said their family's financial situation is no better.
Only about a quarter said they are better off today than in 2008.