Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Indiana's 9th District Race Could Be A Barn Burner...AGAIN

By Jon E. Easter

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to spotlight and highlight a number of the Congressional races that are currently well underway as we climb towards the General Election in November.

Today, let’s take on the 9th Congressional District with the battle between incumbent Democrat Baron Hill, Republican newcomer Todd Young, and Libertarian Greg Knott.

The 9th is a complicated district that covers essentially South Central and Southeastern Indiana. It includes most of Columbus, most of the Bloomington, the Louisville suburbs, the Cincinnati suburbs and other communities in between. It has elements of everything that makes Indiana…well…Indiana. From the manufacturing industry around the Ohio River to the Indiana University campus to the old state capital of Corydon to the vast farmlands in between, it takes a mix of progressive and conservative ideas to represent it well. It is a microcosm of the rest of the state.

Seated in the 9th District is veteran legislator Baron Hill. After an unsuccessful run for Senate in 1990 to replace Dan Quayle when he was named Vice President by George H.W. Bush, Hill was elected in 1998 to replace the retiring Lee Hamilton in a close race. He was re-elected in 2000 and again in 2002 in a nail biter over Republican Mike Sodrel. In 2004, he was narrowly defeated by Sodrel, but he won a rematch in 2006. He defeated Sodrel again in 2008 resoundingly, 58-39 percent. As most of you know, Hill is a Blue Dog Democrat, a conservative coalition of Dems of which three of Indiana’s five Democratic representatives play key roles. Hill has been mentioned as a possible candidate for Governor in 2012.

His main challenger will be Republican Todd Young. Young prevailed in a close primary fight over Travis Haskins and the guy that never quits, Mike Sodrel, who finished a distant third. As a side note, if Sodrel didn’t get the hint that he’s no longer wanted, I think this Primary Election provided him plenty of insight. Young worked the hardest for the GOP nod, and he took the spot from the favored Sodrel. Young is a former Marine and is a part-time Orange County Deputy Prosecutor. He's an Indianapolis native that has also lived in Hamilton County. That's something that the Indiana Democratic Party brought up.

Libertarian Greg Knott will also challenge. The Libertarians are making a big deal about Knott being under 35. He's a network administrator for a Bloomington company. A quick Google search ferrets out no campaign website, but there are a few blog posts like this one from SchansBlog that talks about his support of the Fair Tax. You do have to credit the Libertarians for finding a number of good people ready to step up and run. They have found candidates in all nine districts, for U.S. Senate, and for several other offices.

Given that Hill was trailing by nine points in a FDL/Survey USA Poll to the vanquished Sodrel in January, you would have to figure that Hill is in a bit of a pickle in the 9th this time around. While there are still over six months for this race to take twists and turns, you would think that Young will have to let people get to know him a bit before they are willing to turn the keys over to him. CQ Politics lists the district as a Lean Democratic district. The Cook Political Report calls it a toss-up.

I think, at this early stage, I have to agree with Cook. At this point, I think Hill in in trouble, but that doesn't mean I think he will lose. Hill has been a Blue Dog, and Young may actually turn out to be a bit conservative for the moderate leaning district. Knott may pull two or three percent away from Young, and in a close race, it might actually put Hill over the top. Hill knows how to run and win in close races. He's a master at it, and I think this one will be another one to add to his quiver. I will have to wait a while to definitively call this one, but nothing would surprise me in the 9th. It's reasonable to assume that this will not be the only blog post on the race in the Fightin' 9th. It should be an interesting race for the politicos to watch.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your article on this race but I think you are missing some important points.

1st. Baron has $1 million, Todd Young is broke

2nd. There are now 3 open congressional seats in Indiana, 2 of which will be competitive and one will have a special election. Even the Republicans have limited resources and buying name ID in that district is very expensive

3rd. Young is only a tier 2 candidate on the NRCC list. Bouchon, Walorksi, are tier 1

4th. Sodril is still pissed, no unity presser, and the guy who finished 2nd is closer to the libertarian candidate and alot of his supporters may flip to the libertarian.

Jon E. Easter said...

All good points. Either you are Terry Burns or he has read your comments and posted the same thing on his Indianapolis Times blog.