Indiana Republicans’ nominee to succeed Jackie Walorski for the 2nd congressional District race this November has been chosen. Rep. Walorski was tragically killed in an automobile crash, along with two others plus the driver of the other car. The two were a staffer and the local GOP party chair. The candidate chosen was endorsed by Walorski’s husband.
Rudy Yakym, a former Walorski campaign finance director in 2011 and 2012, is the nominee. The late Congresswoman’s husband, Dean Swihart, endorsed Yakym last week. He won the nomination in the first round of voting during a Saturday caucus. Walorski ran unopposed in the spring primary. Yakym’s nomination was voted on by 375 precinct committee members. A special election will take place on November 8, the same day as the general election. Walorski’s current term extends through the end of the year. Yakym is also the Republican nominee for the general election.
The reason for the special election is that the state law calls for a successor to be named by the district party chair. He was one of the victims of the car crash who died. So, the party decided to hold a special election at the same time as the general election
A dozen people competed for the nomination, including a former Attorney General.
Candidates needed at least 187 members’ support in the first round of voting to carry a win, Indiana GOP Chair Kyle Hupfer said Saturday. Hupfer did not say how many votes Yakym ultimately garnered in his decisive, first-round win, but support for the candidate appeared strong. In the second decision, to nominate Yakym in the special election, the former campaign finance director was chosen through acclamation, or an enthusiastic voice vote.
“Rudy will be a strong voice for northern Indiana and continue Jackie Walorski’s legacy of fighting for conservative values in Washington D.C.,” Hupfer said in a provided statement.
He will face Democrat Paul Steury, a high school science teacher from Goshen, and Libertarian William Henry. Yakym is 38 years old and an executive with Elkhart distribution company Kem Krest. He was a longtime political ally of Walorski.
Yakym portrayed himself as someone who would continue Walorski’s work on conservative causes.
He overcame criticism over his ties to Indiana’s Republican establishment, including work as a member of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s 2016 gubernatorial transition team and with Sen. Todd Young’s 2022 campaign finance committee. Holcomb also appointed Yakym to the state Judicial Nominating Commission, which selects finalists for appointments to the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
Swihart introduced Yakym at the caucus and explained why he chose to endorse Yakym. Swihart said that Yakym is a “pro-Trump, pro-life and Christian family man.”
“I don’t take this endorsement lightly at all,” Swihart said. “Rudy and I had a brutally honest conversation about what it would mean to continue the work that Jackie did in D.C. That’s not backing down from a fight, that’s never losing sight of your principles and beliefs and always putting the people in the 2nd district first.”
Yakym, in his speech to precinct committee members, said he’s been traveling the district and speaking to constituents from Fulton to St. Joseph county about concerns ranging from ambulatory resources in Rochester, Indiana, to the economic shutdown during the onset of the pandemic.
The GOP nominee said he will prioritize fighting inflation, supporting Israel and funding military and veteran services. Yakym made clear his support for former President Donald Trump, emphasizing his own role as an avid Trump fundraiser in 2020.
“Jackie taught us that character and integrity matter, and that’s why she served on the House Ethics Committee,” Yakym said, turning to Swihart. “Dean, you have my word that I will work every day to honor Jackie’s legacy and make you proud.”
The district is a solidly Republican one so the GOP nominee is expected to win.