Deceased Indiana woman who won her primary posthumously will be replaced on the ballot

 June 17, 2024

A deceased Indiana woman who won her primary race posthumously will be replaced on the November ballot by the state's Republicans.

Jennifer Pace, 59, won her congressional primary race in May. She died months before from a heart attack.

Indiana Republicans will choose a new candidate to represent the 7th District at a caucus meeting. They face an uphill battle winning the seat in the solidly blue district, which includes most of Indianapolis.

Woman wins posthumously

Pace earned 7,706 votes from beyond the grave in the May 7 primary. She received 31% of the vote in a field of four candidates.

Pace ran on a limited government platform. She worked in advertising according to Ballotpedia.

"Government should function like a well-trained dog; be loyal to the American people, obey the Constitution, protect our families and cities, and defend our Nation's Freedom, Rights, livelihood and well being," a flyer for her campaign read.

Now, in accordance with official rules, Indiana Republicans will hold a caucus meeting on June 22 to select a replacement. The state's Republicans have 30 days within receiving official notice of a ballot vacancy to select a replacement.

“The Indiana GOP had 30 days after receiving official notice of a ballot vacancy to hold a caucus. In compliance with that, the caucus will be held on June 22nd,” said Griffin Reid, press secretary and digital director for the Indiana Republican Party, in a statement to the Washington Examiner.

Pace ran against retired a retired Army Lt. Colonel, Catherine Ping, former mailman Phillip Davis, and former Evansville mayoral candidate Gabe Whitley.

The county's Republicans said the deadline to remove Pace from the ballot had already passed when she unexpectedly died in March. 

“During the primaries, folks just kind of run on their own in those races and we stay out of it. So, with most primary candidates, we have minimal interactions,” Marion County GOP chairman Joe Elsener said.

Democrat favored to win

The incumbent in Indiana's 7th District, Democrat Andre Carson, has served since 2007.  He easily won the primary with 91% of the vote and is all but certain to win re-election in November.

It is not unheard of for dead people to win elections in low-profile races, and there are some famous examples too.

In 2000, Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, a Democrat, won election to the U.S. Senate after dying in a plane crash. His widow Jean Carnahan went on to serve on his behalf in the Senate for two years.

Alaska congressman Nick Begic, also a Democrat, won re-election in 1972 after he disappeared in a plane crash. He was declared dead, and his body has never been found.

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