By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – Craig Snow entered the primary late, had virtually no name recognition and was hampered – like every other candidate – by the pandemic.
And somehow he won a decisive race for Indiana House District 18 against Russ Reahard, who had been making a second run for the legislative seat.
Both men were hoping to step in and win the district held for more than three decades by Republican Dave Wolkins, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
Snow did especially well in Kosciusko County, winning 70% of the vote. District-wide, Snow collected 55.3% and Reahard claimed 44.7%. The district is a long horizontal stretch that includes much of Kosciusko County, all of Wabash and some of Grant and Miami counties.
Snow, whose work history includes long stints in the orthopedic industry, now works in sales with Silveus Insurance Group. He credits his effort in making connections before the pandemic threw a cold wet towel on traditional campaigning.
The 51-year-old Warsaw man entered the primary race late after Alan Alderfer unexpectedly bowed out. But he was quickly embraced by Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer and Wabash Mayor Scott Long over the more conservative Reahard.
Of the 4,023 votes Snow picked up, more than 2,500 came from Kosciusko County.
Snow said election night was exciting and nerve-wracking.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Snow said Tuesday night outside GOP headquarters in Warsaw. “With COVID putting us on lockdown, it was very difficult to get out and see people …. but early on, I made a lot of contacts especially in Wabash County where I’m not well-known.”
Snow picked up endorsements and support from Farm Bureau and Indiana Manufacturers Association, as well as Right To Life Indiana and the National Gun Association.
He said he also benefited from talks with Wolkins, State Sen. Ryan Mishler and even had some communication with US Reps. Jackie Walorski and Jim Banks.
Snow will face Democrat Chad Harris of Wabash in the general election.
He said he will focus much of his attention on Wabash County and try to connect more with the ag community.
“There’s a lot of people I need to meet and get to know,” Snow said.
He said he’s not taking anything for granted even though Kosciusko and Wabash counties are overwhelmingly Republican.
“Chad’s a business owner. He’s got some smarts and he’s well-known down there. I don’t want to make any assumptions. I’ll do what I can to win, for sure.”
A dejected Reahard sat at the GOP office in Warsaw Tuesday night reviewing the numbers. His campaign made strides in his second run, with many more yard signs with a theme, “Russ For Us.”
“I did better than I did two years ago and I really want to thank my volunteers – about 45 volunteers that did mailings to nearly all my voters and did door-to-door. Probably over 2,000 doors covered,” Reahard said.