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Walorski wins fourth term in House

VICTORY: U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski gives her victory speech to supporters Tuesday night at The Exchange Whiskey Bar in South Bend.

BY RASMUS S. JORGENSEN - rjorgensen@elkharttruth.com

SOUTH BEND — Incumbent U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski defeated Democratic challenger Mel Hall in a hard-fought campaign Tuesday, giving the Republican her fourth term as representative of Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District.

Walorski, a Jimtown resident, stepped onto the scene at The Exchange Whiskey Bar in South Bend about 9:20 p.m., announcing to her cheering supporters that victory was theirs. She thanked her volunteers, naming some who have made thousands of phone calls and knocked on hundreds of doors.

“I want to thank all of you tonight,” Walorski said. “We go back to D.C. some time next week, and I want to tell you that it’s been the greatest honor of my life to stand up and to be able to serve you.

“My number one priority will be to defend our economic momentum in this country,” she said, praising the GOP tax cuts. “With more coming.”

Hall did not give a speech Tuesday night but sent a statement around the same time Walorski spoke.

“Even though we came up short tonight, I’m proud of the campaign we ran, and the people we met along the way,” Hall said. “Many folks across the district are eager for a representative who will protect their health care, grow good-paying jobs, and clean up the partisan mess in Congress. While that will not be me in the coming term, I am encouraged by the enthusiasm and appetite for change I saw across all 10 counties of this district.”

During the campaign, 2nd District voters have been most interested in issues of health care and immigration, according to data from Google Trends. Abortion, tariffs and guns have also been popular issues. Both Walorski and Hall spent much of their campaigns speaking about securing health care for people with pre-existing conditions.

The campaigns also launched several attacks against each other. Walorski claimed that Hall lived in Washington for several years while taking illegal tax breaks and working as a lobbyist. Hall attacked Walorski for voting to take away health care from people with pre-existing conditions, for misleading voters by suggesting that her votes had secured health care for Republican City Council member Mary Olson, whose pre-existing condition is covered by the City of Elkhart, and for not holding town halls in the district for years.

Walorski overcame what has been described as a possible blue wave, as Democrats were projected to take over the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Still, Republican victory in the 2nd District was no surprise, as FiveThirtyEight had projected Walorski to have a roughly 29 in 30 chance of being re-elected throughout the fall. According to the site, the 2nd District is 22 percentage points more Republican than the nation overall.