By MARK SCHOEFF, JR.

WASHINGTON  — For the first time in nearly 100 years, there’s a chance a Republican could win the congressional seat in Northwest Indiana, and Washington is taking notice.

This week, the campaign arms of House Democrats and Republicans waded into the 1st CD race between incumbent Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan and Republican challenger Jennifer-Ruth Green.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Wednesday added Mrvan to its Frontline program, which is designed to bolster vulnerable candidates.

The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee also moved on Wednesday to boost Green by providing additional campaign support.

Mrvan is running for re-election after having won the seat in 2020 with 57% of the vote. But that margin of victory was less than the 65% that former Rep. Pete Visclosky garnered in his last election before he retired after holding the seat since the mid-1980s.

Republicans are hopeful they can flip the 1st CD because it has been redrawn to incorporate more of Republican-leaning LaPorte County. The party says the southern part of the Democratic stronghold of Lake County also is trending more Republican.

The DCCC has stepped in to help Mrvan.

“While Frank was easily elected in 2020, Republicans controlled redistricting in Indiana and made this once-safe seat, which has been held by Democrats for 90 years, more competitive than ever before,” the DCCC said on its Frontline website. “Now, Republicans are lining up to make a play for this seat, and Frank will need to build a much larger campaign to reach his new constituents.”

Mrvan acknowledged he faces a challenge this fall.

“Given the attention of this race from conservative, national organizations, it is only appropriate for the DCCC to announce their priority for this District as well,” Mrvan said in a statement. “I am grateful for their vote of confidence and will continue to be relentless in my focus to be a district-centric Member of Congress who prioritizes the kitchen-table challenges from inflation, growing the Northwest Indiana economy, and defending our invaluable steel and manufacturing industries.”

On the other side of the contest, the NRCC added Green to its Young Gun program. It provides campaign resources, such as policy and fundraising support, for challengers the organization sees as having a chance to win.

“These impressive leaders have proven they have what it takes to run the most effective and efficient campaigns. Each ‘Young Gun’ will play a critical role in our pursuit to win back the House majority and I thank them for their hard work and commitment to victory,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a statement.

The Green campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Green, a lieutenant colonel in the Indiana Air National Guard and the first African-American woman to command the 122d Fighter Wing, is running for office for the first time. But she dispatched former LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo, 47% to 22%, in the Republican primary.

The fact that Mrvan didn’t break into the 60% range in his initial campaign, the headwinds buffeting Democratic candidates, such as high inflation, and Green’s decisive primary win has drawn attention to the 1st CD matchup.

“It appears as though it could be a competitive race,” said Andrew Downs, an associate professor of political science at Purdue Fort Wayne.

Although Republicans hope to make history, the district remains Mrvan’s to lose. Howey Politics Indiana says the race is “Likely Mrvan.”

Green faces her own challenges. The debate over gun control and abortion rights may work against her in the Democratic-majority district. In addition, Green ran as a Trump Republican against the more establishment Milo in the primary. But there’s a question of how much appeal that political orientation will have among general election voters.

“Your message that resonates in the primary may not resonate with moderates – and it may not resonate with soft Republicans – in the fall,” said Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue Fort Wayne.

Republicans have steadily improved their presidential and gubernatorial election results in the 1st CD over the last few cycles. Mrvan and the DCCC will try to stop Green and the NRCC from continuing the trend at the congressional level.