I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Weekend. Mine was filled with three of my favorite things: family, fun, and football. It's back to work and back to reality today, though. Time to take a look ahead and see what might be in the offing for the next major election cycle in 2014.
We're still just under two years away, but you can bet that Indiana will play a pretty big role in what party controls the U.S. House with two key districts that will likely be targeted by Democrats in the push to win 218 seats and get the gavel back to presumably Nancy Pelosi. Be sure that the campaign has already begun.
Let's begin in Northern Indiana. Districts 1 and 3 are safe with Pete Visclosky and Marlin Stutzman serving as long as they want to serve. District 2 was supposed to be more safe for Republicans, but Congresswoman-elect Jackie Walorski had a tough time defeating Brendan Mullen and Joe Ruiz. Her one percentage point victory gives Democrats a lot of hope in the 2nd District that a strong run from a Democrat like Mullen or South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg could possibly retake the seat for the Democrats.
None of the Central Indiana Districts really look close. Districts 4, 5, 6, and 7 should stay solidly within the hands of the party and the representative currently seated in them. It will be interesting to see what Republicans do in the 7th District against Andre Carson. Carson keeps proving time and time again that he's not the Democrat they try to make him with above-the-baseline performances at the ballot box.
The 9th District feels safe, but Todd Young was short of 60 percent in his race. Young's battle against Shelli Yoder this past election season showed that perhaps a more well-funded run by Yoder or another Democrat like former Rep. Baron Hill could potentially cut into the 56 percent of the vote that Young received. At this point, I'd still rate the 9th safe.
That leaves the "Bloody 8th". Congressman Larry Bucshon turned back a strong challenge from former State Rep. Dave Crooks earlier this month. Bucshon's 55 percent was a strong showing in a tight district. There are, however, Democrats in the 8th that might make things an even closer shave for Dr. Bucshon. One of those Democrats is a guy by the name of John Gregg.
Gregg is very popular in the 8th District, and it shows in the Gubernatorial Election results. He won Warrick, Starke, Vermillion, Vigo, Sullivan, Perry, Pike, Crawford, Greene, and Knox Counties. With the exception of Dubois County, Gregg was in the 40th percentile of votes everywhere else. By contrast, Barack Obama won just Vigo County, and it wasn't by much. Gregg could give Bucshon a run for his seat there. Former Congressman Brad Ellsworth could make a comeback or Crooks could give it another shot.
At this point, it's all speculation. Three statewide seats will be open including Treasurer, Auditor, and Secretary of State. Neither Tim Berry nor Richard Mourdock can pursue another term. Both are term limited. Secretary of State Connie Lawson was appointed to her seat, so she will likely lead the GOP ticket in 2012 statewide. It should be noted that Berry could simply go back and run for Treasurer again. He's sat out of that seat for eight years after serving in it from 1999 to 2007. Mourdock needs to just disappear...for a long time...from politics.
I honestly doubt the Indiana Democratic Party will put too much effort into those statewide executive seats. The Dems MUST hold what they have in the Indiana House and Senate and try to slowly get back in the game there. I would expect that the IDP will spend a lot of time looking for good candidates and all the numbers in getting together a strong ticket to try to eat into the Republican supermajorities in the Indiana House and Senate.
It still seems like a long way off, but 2014 is really just around the corner in politics. This post has just dealt with the state and federal races. There will be a slew of local township races as well. All of it bears watching as it will keep political pundits busy over the next couple of years.