in which I play pundit, badly
Some random thoughts on the Indiana Congressional results: (warning, political geek alert ahead!)
1st District – man, this one scared me for a bit. I really thought for a while there that Visclosky might lose it, but they called it for Pete with only 20% of the returns in. I guess increased dissatisfaction with things like DST and the Toll Road debacle balanced out the anti-Dem sentiment some people were feeling up there with all the corruption and fraud stories. In any case, it’s a solid win in a district that solidly trends Dem.
2nd District – back when my friend Bradshaw was a morning DJ on the local cock-rock station in Mishawaka, he and his co-host would see just how often they could get Chris Chocola to call in and complain about something they had said. It was pretty often, believe me. He played me a tape of one of the calls awhile ago and it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. Maybe while he’s out of the House of Representatives, Count Chocula can go try to find a sense of humor. Joe Donnelly is a great guy who ran a hard-fought rematch campaign, and who was helped by anti-Daniels sentiment. I only wish is name would have been Frank N. Berry – then we’d have a match for the ages.
3rd District – okay, this one was heartbreaking. I’ve been working for Tom Hayhurst off and on all season, and I really (really!) thought he stood a shot of beating Captain Chaos (thanks for the new nickname, Jason!). The problem in this district (and I can say this, because I was born and raised there) is that people just don’t care enough. I’m serious. They’re armchair activists to the umpteenth degree, and their stereotypical Hoosier quality of “all talk, no action, fear change, status quo” made most of them go with the status quo even if they didn’t quite think it was the right way to vote. I can’t tell you how many times I heard this when I was canvassing up there… seemingly sound-minded individuals that just didn’t want to upset the balance of things. This not only serves as reason #1 that I could never live within two hours of home ever again, but it also tells me that the only way Souder is going to get out of office up there is for some sort of scandal to hit at precisely the right time. And it certainly won’t be a sex scandal…I mean, have you SEEN the guy? Ew.
4th District – kind of a predictable turnout. I like David Sanders a lot – I’ve met the guy a few times, and he seems knowledgeable and affable and everything a Congressman should be. However, he was running a shoestring campaign against a chain link candidate, and even the good guys get pounded under those circumstances. I thought perhaps the issue of treatment of veterans would help him, but it never seemed to get that traction underneath the message.
5th District – Perhaps one day we’ll run a viable opponent against Dan Burton. I’m not one to bash fellow Dems, but Katherine Fox Carr is seriously unhinged. Ah, well.
6th District – Hmm. Barry Welsh didn’t stand much of a chance either, though he put up a valiant effort and is the first Congressional candidate to really impress me by trying to harness the value of the netroots. Kos loved him, Booman Tribune and My Left Wing loved him, but when you’ve got a conservative behemoth like Mike Pence as your opponent, being closely aligned with what are widely perceived as “far left” entities probably isn’t going to help your campaign much. But big kudos to Barry for being one of the earliest and firmest believers in Howard Dean’s ‘Fifty State Strategy’ and for leading that charge by example.
7th District – Is it wrong to compare Julia Carson to John Hostettler? It feels dirty, somehow. But the comparison in my mind is there— the ability to turn out voters, the atypical way they campaign through the season, the rumors flying nearly every election year, the dumb mistakes they’ve made throughout their political careers. The major difference this time around is that Hostettler was up against a strong, viable candidate and Julia’s opponent wasn’t even originally slated for the race.
Now, I’m no Carson apologist, but conversely, she’s been a strong representative to her district for many years. I don’t have significant inroads into the county Party structure; I don’t know who they have in mind to step up in Julia’s place next cycle. (Sorry to say, she won’t win again.) The demographics of the 7th District are changing, and it’s going to be interesting to see what that means for this typically Democratic stronghold.
8th District – Whew, what a race! They don’t call it the Bloody Eighth for nothing. As I said above, Hostettler met his match in Brad Ellsworth, a Democrat that leans just far enough to the center to pacify the constituents out in GGG-ville (God, Guns, Gays). I have my own personal doubts about Ellsworth on some key issues. I don’t think he’s going to be the Great White Democratic Salvation that many Indiana Dems feel he will be. But that remains to be seen, I suppose.
9th District – I don’t even know what to say about this race. In many ways, it personified everything I truly don’t like about politics—the endless posturing, the incessant negative mailings, the completely bad campaign commercials, the millions of dollars pouring in to the district from special interest groups on both sides, the general feeling of “win by suffocation”. I think Sodrel is abhorrent, but I haven’t exactly warmed to Hill during this cycle either, and I’m not sure why. If anyone can give me some concrete reasons why I should throw my support behind him, this partisan gal is all ears.