Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Young’s name is staying on the ballot for Indiana’s open U.S. Senate seat after a tie vote Friday by the state election commission. The board voted 2-2 along party lines after hearing arguments from attorneys for the state Democratic Party and tea party-backed GOP Rep. Marlin Stutzman that Young’s campaign didn’t submit enough petition signatures to meet state requirements to appear on the May primary ballot. The Indiana race could have national implications as Democrats seek a net gain of four Senate seats to retake the majority from Republicans. That would require the Democratic nominee for president to win in November and allow the vice president to break Senate ties. Until the issue over Young’s eligibility for the ballot emerged, Republicans were seen as having a good chance of holding onto the seat of GOP Sen. Dan Coats, who is retiring.
The five-hour hearing grew heated at times and devolved into multiple shouting matches between Young’s attorney and Vice Chairman Anthony Long, the board’s ranking Democrat
“Can you answer the damn question?” Long shouted at attorney David Brooks at one point before the meeting was gaveled back to order.
In the end, Republican board members said they believed Young’s campaign relied in good faith on counts of petition signatures entered by county clerks into an unofficial state database. They agreed that a lower number of petition signatures derived from the official hard copies shouldn’t cause voters to lose the chance to consider “serious and viable candidates.”