PRIMARY ELECTION PREVIEW: Several county races hotly contested

COLUMBIA CITY — With the 2012 primary election less than two weeks away and the Republican nod for president all but a formality, local eyes are on a few contest for U.S. Congress and races for Whitley County Council and county treasurer.County TreasurerThree Republican hopefuls are vying for the treasurer slot being vacated by Lisa Richmond.With no Democrat candidate, the winner of the position in the November general election will be either Cindy (Greer) Doolittle, Laurell E. Hodges or Tami R. Plew.Board of CommissionersTwo of the three Republican members of the three-person panel of Whitley County Board of Commissioners, Tom Rethlake and Don Amber, are on the ballot. The two are unopposed by any Democrat, but candidates have until June 30 at noon to throw a hat in the ring for any uncontested place on the ballot.County CouncilFor Whitley County Council, a field of six Republicans, including three incumbents and three Democrat newcomers will give voters plenty of choices for the May 8 primary.The ballot includes GOP hopefuls Scott Darley, Thor A. Hodges, Jorell T. Tucker, along with incumbents William N. Overdeer, Paula Reimers and Thomas Western for an at-large slot. On the Democrat side, voters can select all three at-large candidates, Steven Heaston, Wes Pease and Greg Racioppi.Surveyor, CoronerThe Republican party has one candidate, Frederick R. Dellinger, for coroner with no Democratic challenger as yet.Two Republicans, Jim Macino and Ron McNeal are running for county surveyor.Precinct CommitteemenConvention DelagatesTwo county precincts have races for precinct committeemen.In Columbia 3, Susan Davison and Debbie Fairchild are filed for the position while Brandon Forrester and Mark Roach are filed for that slot in Union East.The Republicans have 17 candidates filed for 13 slots as state convention delegate.Those candidates are Jim Banks, Jerry Bickle, Matt Boyd, Samuel A. Collins, Richard Goodwin, Terry Goodwin, Gary Gordon, Neil Hanni, Laurell E. Hodges, Jim Macino, Jonathan J. Myers, Mark Roach, Sue Roach, Terry L. Smith, Debra Zawlocki, Linda Zimmerman and Max Zimmerman.State racesThe race for state representative in District 83 pits incumbent and Whitley County resident Kathy Heuer against Keith R. Potter of Roanoke on the Republican ticket while John A. Good runs unopposed in the primary on the Democratic side.Voters in parts of Smith Township will have a decision to make for state representative in District 82.The Republicans have four hopefuls in the race — Mike Caywood, Denise Lemmon, David L. Ober and Wesley Ortell, while on the Democratic ballot, only Mike Wilbur is filed.A state senator race for voters in Jefferson and Union townships has Republican David C. Long squaring off against Democrat challenger Charles T. Keen.National racesAs of press time, only two challengers remain to Republican frontrunner for president Mitt Romney, although Newt Gingrich is expected to bow out of the race any day.The winner of the presidential primary will face President Barack Obama in the fall.For governor of Indiana, the fall race has been decided with Mike Pence (Republican) and John R. Gregg (Democrat) facing each other in November for Gov. Mitch Daniel’s seat.The only U.S. senator in Indiana up for re-election, longtime incumbent Richard Lugar, faces vigorous competition from both his own party and from the Democrats.Republican challenger Richard E. Mourdock has campaigned heavily to unseat the sitting senator in the primary, while Democrat Joe Donnelly is unopposed in the primary and will face the Republican primary winner in November.For U.S. Representative in the 3rd District, Rep. Marlin A. Stutzman from Howe will face one of six Democratic challengers in the fall. The Democrats filing for a chance at Stutzman’s seat include Kevin R. Boyd, Stephen G. Hope, Justin Kuhnle, John Forrest Roberson, Tommy A. Schrader and David Sowards.