By Deb Kelly
TERRE HAUTE — The winner of Vigo County judge for Superior Court Division 5 is Dr. Michael Rader.
With 23,636 votes, or 56 percent, Rader defeated Republican challenger Dan Kelly, who earned 18,216 votes, or 44 percent. Totals are unofficial results from the Vigo County Election office.
As fellow Democrats celebrated Tuesday evening at the Paradise Pavilion in West Terre Haute, Rader shook hands with well-wishers, wife Cheryl Rader by his side.
“I’m pretty excited,” Rader said. “This is the end of a long campaign – it doesn’t compare to national races, of course, but since January, we’ve been campaigning continuously, with only a couple of weeks off in May.”
Rader said although the effort has been exhausting, “it goes without saying, I’m thrilled.”
He added, “I cannot express adequately enough how grateful I am to everyone who supported us.”
Kelly, watching election returns with family and friends at Buffalo Wild Wings on the south end of town, said, “Obvious, I’m very disappointed; it’s just not a great year to be a Republican in Vigo County.
“Mike Rader is a friend of mine, we’ve always gotten along and he’s a gentleman,” Kelly said. “I have no doubts he’ll be a terrific judge for Division 5.”
Rader said he had received a phone call from Kelly around 7 p.m., when it was clear the results were in Rader’s favor.
“He’s a great guy,” Rader said. “We’ve run a clean race, we have a great deal of respect for one another, and although we’ve disagreed on issues, we have disagreed respectfully, and run the race in a professional way and in a way that shows respect for the office.”
Rader added he will not be taking much of a break after the campaign, saying he will be working hard to be prepared for taking over as judge.