Republicans defeated Democratic Rep. Baron Hill and captured another seat Tuesday that the party had targeted as part of its effort to win control of the U.S. House, but Rep. Joe Donnelly prevented a GOP sweep of Indiana's three swing districts.
Donnelly, who unseated a Republican in 2006 as Democrats won control of Congress, managed a narrow win over Republican Jackie Walorski to retain northern Indiana's 2nd district seat.
Republican Todd Young defeated Hill in southern Indiana's 9th district after the two parties spent millions on often-negative TV ads in the fight for the seat that Hill had won in five of the last six elections. Hill has been a leader of the moderate Blue Dog caucus of Democratic congressmen, but came under fire from Republicans for his votes supporting the federal stimulus and health care overhaul bills.
And Republican Larry Bucshon won southwestern Indiana's 8th district, taking back a seat that Democrat Brad Ellsworth won from Republicans four years ago but gave up for his unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate.
"They don't like the direction the country is heading in with the current administration," Bucshon said of voters. "We need to get our federal spending under control immediately. Those are things we can tackle right away to spur the economy."
The win by Young, a 38-year-old attorney from Bloomington, came after he narrowly won the Republican primary with 34 percent of the vote over former Rep. Mike Sodrel and others. Young also got fundraising help from former Vice President Dan Quayle, who is his wife's uncle.
Donnelly faced an aggressive campaign from Walorski, a state legislator who was a tea party favorite and an outspoken conservative. The Democrat took an unusual jab at his party's leadership during the campaign, with a television ad that referred to climate change legislation as "Nancy Pelosi's energy tax."
Bucshon, a heart surgeon from Newburgh, defeated Democratic state Rep. Trent Van Haaften in the district that national Republicans had targeted as one to recapture since it was in GOP hands for more than a decade until Ellsworth unseated a Republican incumbent in 2006.
Bucshon will join at least two other Republicans as new congressmen. That includes state Sen. Marlin Stutzman in northeastern Indiana's 3rd District, taking the place of Republican Rep. Mark Souder, who abruptly resigned in May after he admitted having an extramarital affair with a staffer.
Stutzman, a favorite of tea party activists, said he believed voters were delivering a strong message to Washington because of their worries about the economy and disagreements with Obama.
"Spending is the issue, the economy, jobs. The policies coming out of Washington would kill jobs in this district," Stutzman said. "There was a resolve today, we could see it in people's faces. They were very determined that this is something that needed to be done."
Stutzman expects to take office this month since he also won a special election over Democrat Tom Hayhurst to complete Souder's term.
Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, meanwhile, won in the 4th District to replace GOP Rep. Steve Buyer, who is retiring because of his wife's illness. Rokita called his win "part of this mission to take this country back." He also urged tea party voters to "stay engaged, keep us accountable."
Two Republican and two Democratic incumbent congressmen also won re-election in districts solidly in their party's column. Those are:
— Rep. Mike Pence, the third-ranking Republican in the U.S. House who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor or president.
— Republican Rep. Dan Burton, who won a 15th term after getting just 30 percent of the vote in a crowded May Republican primary in which several rivals argued it was time for him to go.
— Democratic Rep. Andre Carson, an unwavering supporter of Obama who won a second term to the Indianapolis seat he filled after the 2007 death of his grandmother, Rep. Julia Carson.
— Democratic Rep. Pete Visclosky won a 14th term from his heavily Democratic northwestern Indiana district.