Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Close of Recount in 8th District Sets November U.S. House Ballot

The recount has finally ended in District 8 between Democrats David Orentlicher and Ron Drake.

On Friday, Orentlicher finally took the tough step of conceding a 54-vote loss to Drake. As you may remember, Orentlicher was on the other side of a close election for House District 86 several years ago beating Jim Atterholt by just 36 votes and, in the process, securing a Democratic majority in the Indiana House.

This time, it just wasn’t to be for Orentlicher. Drake, a former state representative, moves on to face Congressman Larry Bucshon and one of Indiana’s most-stalwart Libertarians, Andy Horning, in the Southwest Indiana Congressional seat once known as the Bloody 8th.

With the 8th District now settled, let’s look at the Congressional ballot in all the other districts.

In District 1, Democrat Pete Visclosky, the incumbent, Libertarian Donna Dunn and write-in candidate John Meyer.  This seat is safe in the hands of the Democrats.

In District 2, the incumbent, Republican Jackie Walorski, is in another tough fight against retired South Bend Police Officer, Lynn Coleman, the Democratic nominee. While this district leans Republican, the lack of much help at the top of the ticket could spell trouble for Walorski. Until 2013, this district was represented by Democrat Joe Donnelly.  Ron Cenkush, a Libertarian is also in this race.

District 3 is an open seat with Marlin Stutzman retiring to unsuccessfully run for Senate. Republican State Senator Jim Bates is extremely conservative, but he won the GOP nomination to replace the ultraconservative Stutzman. Libertarian Pepper Snyder is in this race, and she has a chance to make some headway as Democrat Tommy Schrader, a perennial candidate in Fort Wayne for a variety of offices, has mounted a less-than-stellar campaign.

District 4 has incumbent Todd Rokita, a Republican, taking on educator John Dale, a Democrat, in a rematch of 2014’s election. Rokita was restored last week to the ballot after running for Governor and is searching for a fourth term in office. Unfortunately, this district ranks as one of the most Republican districts in the country, so there’s little doubt the man who tried to take on children’s school lunches will be going back to Congress.  Steve Mayoras is also running for the Libertarians.

Like District 4, District 5 had its incumbent, Republican Susan Brooks, restored to the ballot after a run for Governor. Brooks has a great opponent in veterinarian Angela Demaree. With a bad day at the top of the ballot, it’s possible this district could slip away from Brooks. Still, it’s doubtful. While parts of Marion County will make it interesting, the Hamilton County parts of the district make it tough for Democrats. Libertarian Matt Wittlief is on the ballot.

In District 6, incumbent Republican Luke Messer is trying to go back to Congress again for his third term. He faces Democrat Barry Welch.  Libertarian Rich Turvey is also in the race.  I initially had left him out of this post, so I apologize to him.

In District 7, Libertarian Drew Thompson and Republican Cat Ping try to defeat Congressman André Carson. Carson, whose stock continues to rise in the Democratic Party, has a chance to win his fifth term in Congress in November. I had a great conversation with him last weekend, and he sounds like he is having a great time continuing to do the work of his constituents.

Finally, saving the most interesting race for last, there’s the goofy 9th District. Incumbent Todd Young is about to go down in defeat to Evan Bayh for U.S. Senate in November. That leaves “Tennessee Trey” Hollingsworth to face Democrat Shelli Yoder. With Hollingsworth’s attempt at buying his seat in Congress, Yoder has an excellent shot at flipping this district that rates as a toss-up this year. Libertarian Russell Brooksbank is also in the race.

Currently, it’s 7-2 Republicans. If the Democrats are going to have a chance at the House, they have to pick up a couple of seats. With Trump at the top of the ticket and a weak gubernatorial candidate, anything is possible.

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