The race for statehouse seat 97 is featured with some quotes from AJ.
House District 97 (Indianapolis)
Two young candidates with ties to some of the state's most controversial politicians are battling for an open seat in a district that could go Democrat or Republican.
A.J. Feeney-Ruiz, a 32-year-old Republican who was spokesman for ousted Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White, is taking on Justin Moed, a 28-year-old Democrat who was once an aide to the House's former top Democrat, Pat Bauer.
The seat became open when Mary Ann Sullivan, a Democrat, decided to challenge Republican incumbent Brent Waltz for a spot in the State Senate.
Both candidates are trying to distinguish themselves with their issues.
"I think that the biggest difference is that I have private sector experience," Feeney-Ruiz said. "He doesn't. He comes from a professional lifetime of essentially working for Pat Bauer."
Feeney-Ruiz, who owns a business and media consulting company and has a stake in a software company, is focusing on job creation.
"Anybody running for office should be focused on how do we bring more jobs to Indiana," he said.
While Feeney-Ruiz is fiscally conservative, he calls himself a social moderate, which could help him win votes in a diverse district. And he's touting the importance of reaching across the aisle to passing legislation that's good for the state.
"I'm a Lugar Republican," he said. "I always have been. He was my political hero, and I'm not ashamed of that."Moed, who quit his job in state government to run for office and is now a home detention officer in Marion County, is trying to emphasize "servant leadership." He said he's proud that he has visited about 10,000 homes since March and sustained two dog bites, one of which ended in a five-hour hospital trip for treatment and a tetanus shot.
He's campaigning on issues that resemble those of a city council candidate: abandoned homes, street and sidewalk improvements and strengthening law enforcement.
Those are the issues constituents care about, he said.
"They want government to listen," he said. "They want it to care and they want it to act, to do something. They don't care about party politics. They don't care about finger-pointing. They want solutions."
There's not a clear favorite in the race, Vargus said, but since the Republicans have more money, they could boost Feeney-Ruiz's chances in the weeks leading up to the election.
Read more about the close races here.