HANCOCK COUNTY — May’s primary election is more than six months away, but local Republicans aren’t wasting any time.
The Facebook pages are up, the ads are running, and 200 strong marched in the Riley Festival parade donning shirts with slogans touting their favorites for local office.
Candidates seeking their party’s nomination in the spring primary election can’t file to run for office until January, but at least two dozen Republican hopefuls have tipped off the party chairwoman of their intentions and already are campaigning for votes.
In 2018, residents will head to the polls to elect a sheriff, prosecutor, circuit court judge, commissioner and four county council members among other local offices.
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They’ll also elect a Hoosier to the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as state representatives.
As of this week, seven local Republican races are expected be contested in May, and the local Republican party expects even more residents to announce campaigns in coming months.
The primary race for Hancock County sheriff is already getting crowded with four Republican candidates announcing campaigns to replace Sheriff Mike Shepherd, who retires in 2018. Four Republican candidates also seek to replace Circuit Court Judge Richard Culver, who retired from the bench this month.
Two Republicans are running in each of the following races: county assessor and county auditor.
Prosecutor Brent Eaton, commissioner Marc Huber and District 2 county councilman Randy Sorrell are the only incumbents being challenged so far.
Though no official announcements have been made by Democrats seeking county office, party chair Randy Johnson said the party is actively seeking candidates to run against Republicans in the November 2018 General Election.
Election season is starting earlier than usual and already, the primary looks to be larger than any in recent years, Hancock County Republican Party chair Janice Silvey said.
At last week’s Riley Festival parade, some 200 Republicans showed up to walk in the parade, many on behalf of candidates seeking their party’s nomination, she said. Republicans saw similar turnout at New Palestine’s fall festival last month.
“It’s exciting to see so many people interested in local politics and the office they’re running for,” Silvey said.
Johnson said his job in coming months will be to find candidates to challenge Republicans in the fall.
A few Democrats have already told Johnson they’re interested in running for office, but they likely won’t make announcements until January when the filing period opens, he said.
Democrats plan to host an event in coming weeks to give potential candidates a chance to learn more about the details of running for local office.