Nisly also benefited from connections from his wife, chairwoman of the Elkhart County Republicans, who helped rally support from establishment Republicans.
Surprising alliances are hardly new in Indiana politics.
In 2012, Democrats and tea partiers hammered away at then-U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar on questions about his residence and qualifications to vote in Indiana. The pairing helped deliver a stunning victory for Treasurer Richard Mourdock, and the immediate end to the marriage of convenience between the political left and right.
Later that year, tea partiers, teachers and suburban Republicans joined with Democrats to vote Republican Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett out of office.
Following Tuesday’s primary, many groups try to take credit for the upsets. Gay marriage opponents quickly dubbed the 2014 election a referendum on the General Assembly’s decision not to place a marriage ban before voters in November.
“Yesterday’s primary election was as close to an across-the-board sweep as you will ever see in politics,” wrote Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, in an email to supporters sent the day after the elections. “Republican voters finally got their chance in a few state legislative districts to express their anger over the failure of the GOP-dominated statehouse to pass a marriage protection amendment.”
But it’s unlikely gay marriage opponents would have had as much success without assists from Common Core opponents and financial backing from the Lunchpail Republicans.
Tom LoBianco covers Indiana politics for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter @tomlobianco.