|Congressman Andre Carson|
The general consensus among political experts is that this is a safe Democratic district. Carson isn't playing it that way, though. There is a lot of new turf in the 7th, and Carson is working it hard. He's ready for the fight of his political life, should it develop.
Indy Politics poobah Abdul-Hakim Shabazz did a breakdown of the district that said it's now a 53-47 split in favor of the Democrats, and he's quick to report that both Mitch Daniels and Greg Ballard won the new 7th. That probably explains the extra effort by the Carson campaign.
It seems like Carson believes that he is locked in what should be the toughest battle since his initial race against Jon Elrod back in 2008. After that, he had to survive a tough seven-way primary against some prominent Democrats. This time around, his opponent is Carlos May, and May is, as they say, no slouch.
May wants to be the first Republican to represent the City of Indianapolis proper since Republican Bill Hudnut who took office in 1973. Hudnut's one term in Congress is the only two years that a Republican has served Indy since 1965. Hudnut defeated then-four term Congressman Andy Jacobs in 1972 on the coattails of Richard Nixon. Jacobs returned on the coattails of Watergate in 1974 and took back the office by knocking off Hudnut. Jacobs served again from 1975-1997. Julia Carson took office in 1997 and served until her death in late 2007. The office set vacant from mid-December of 2007 until March of 2008 when Andre Carson took over, and he's won every election since. Of course, that was the old 7th. The new 7th includes more of the southern townships of Marion County that run more Republican.
Since that first day in office, Carson has built a strong record based on Democratic values. He is no doubt a Democrat, but even some Republicans and Libertarians credit Carson for his access to his constituents and the work he has done on behalf of the people of the 7th District.
Carson's chief legislative accomplishment is the bills he got through Congress and onto President Obama's desk that providing a number of mental health screenings and services for servicemen and servicewomen returning from combat. Another bill that ended up on the President's desk was a bill that helps the returning warriors achieve financial success. Both bills were signed by President Obama into law after passing through the Republican majority house and one of the most gridlocked Senates in recent memory.
If I'm being intellectually honest here, I have to say he was a responsive public servant who treated all problems equally, regardless of the party of the person that reported them.
That said, Congress is a bit different than being the Mayor's Neighborhood Liaison. It is infinitely more political, and, as a Republican, May would be an outsider in Congress as his views tend to run on the moderate side. You can see the struggle on Carlos' website.
His views are written in a have your cake and eat it to manner, and he avoids the big wedge issues. For example, on the issue of defense, he wants to fund our troops but cut inefficiencies. He wants to repeal Obamacare, but he wants to keep popular parts of the bill like keeping young people on their parents' insurance until they are 26 and removing the lifetime coverage cap.
Andre Carson has made it abundantly clear on where he stands on issues. He has the experience and is now building the seniority to back things up. As a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus as well as the Congressional Black Caucus, Carson is becoming a respected voice of the young guard in Washington. He does all this while maintaining contact with constituents back home.
I don't need to tell you this. If you're reading this blog, you probably already know this, and probably most political wonks know this.
The problem he fights this time around is the low-information voter that will respond to Carson's so-called controversial side, and Congressman Carson may eventually see ads run against him trying to stoke these flames against him.
At this point, May is stitll struggling uphill. There are some opportunities for him to take hold. May is challenging Carson to several debates around the district, but, like many incumbents before him, Carson is declining his invitation. This could be something that resonates against Carson. That said, Carson's record is no secret, and the district still favors him.
Back to Abdul's assertion that Daniels and Ballard both won the new 7th. They may have, but those were both relatively well-funded campaigns with big budgets. May's campaign is not. But, as we saw in 2007, you don't always need a lot of money to topple an incumbent. Just ask Bart Peterson.
When it's all said and done on November 6, I don't think you'll see Andre Carson losing this race. I would say that this one will probably be close to the kind of numbers that Abdul predicts. I think Carson will win with around 53-55 percent of the vote. This is still closer than the past, but it's still a good win in the new 7th.