MISHAWAKA - Team Walorski handed over a pair of 2nd CD nominations to Rudy Yakym III on Saturday. Yakym won on a first ballot, and after his 13 opponents withdrew from the second caucus, he was proclaimed the heir to the late U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski’s political legacy by acclamation.

“Wow,” Yakym said in response to the week-long whirlwind. “I’d like to thank Dean and Martha.  Your support means the world to me and something I don’t take lightly.” That was a bow to Walorski’s husband, Dean Swihart, and her mother, Martha, to backing his nascent candidacy.”

Walorski was killed in an auto accident along with two staffers, including St. Joseph County Republican Chairman Zachery Potts, on Aug. 3 near Nappanee.

Yakym, who was appointed by Gov. Holcomb to the Indiana Finance Authority and the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission & Judicial Qualifications Commission, said in a statement to HPI, “Over the past decade Jackie has been a mentor and friend, and I have learned a lot about public service working alongside her. I am running for the 2nd District to not only honor her legacy, but to represent Hoosier common sense in Washington.”

He will take on Democrat Paul Steury of Goshen, a former high school teacher who has lost three races for the Elkhart County Council, in November.

Yakym defeated former disgraced attorney general Curtis Hill and former state representative Christy Stutzman on the first ballot. “There were good people who stepped up to run for this seat. I think competition for the market place is good,” said Yakym. “I’d also like to thank the delegates for the faith you have entrusted in me. We had a whip team in every single county across the district. They came out of the woodwork and said, ‘We’re in.’ The support there has been overwhelming.”

Swihart pitched Yakym in a statement last Tuesday and again on Saturday at Grissom MS.  “The easy path would be to not get involved. Jackie would not have wanted it that way,” Swihart said. “I know Jackie cannot be fully replaced by anyone. Jackie wanted her voice to be heard. That’s why so many of you supported her. I truly believe he is the best person … to protect the Hoosier way in Washington.”

Yakym told precinct officials prior to the vote, “It is never OK for the government to come in a dictate the way we live our lives. I will go to Washington to get our national budget under control. In 2020, I stood with President Trump. Jackie taught us integrity matters. Let’s go and destroy the Biden-Pelosi agenda and take our country back.”

Earlier, Hill, who lost a renomination as attorney general after a groping scandal, told precinct officials, “I am a threat” and urged delegates to “send me to Washington to fight for election integrity, secure our borders and keep on eye on the FBI.”

On Friday, Victoria Reardon, daughter of former State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, urged GOP officials to reject Hill in a South Bend Tribune op-ed. "I want people to want to take action and to not want Curtis Hill's name to even be considered," Victoria Reardon said. "It's very unfair to the victims, having to hear that the man who did this to you, who sexually harassed you, he might be again in this position of power."

Stutzman was introduced by her husband, former U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, who insisted that his wife “is not a quitter” for resigning her Indiana House seat shortly after she was reelected in 2020, blaming the pandemic and Gov. Eric Holcomb's shutdown orders. Her message to officials: “Washington is not just a swamp, it’s a cesspool. There are 87,000 IRS agents headed our way. This election is critical.”

Indiana Democrats announced a caucus for the special election to replace Rep. Walorski at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Operating Engineers Local 150 in Lakeville.

“Following the tragic passing of Jackie Walorski, the Indiana Democratic Party must hold a caucus to formally nominate a candidate for Indiana's Second Congressional District’s special election on November 8. Democrats look forward to nominating a proven and honest leader who will work to create a better future for Hoosier families—not cater to special interests or endorse extremism,” said Indiana Democratic Chairman Mike Schmuhl.