GOP expected to make gains in Indiana delegation

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Republicans could strengthen their hold on Indiana's nine-member congressional delegation Tuesday, but even with new political districts designed to give them an advantage, Democrats aren't likely to be down and out for the long haul.

History shows that candidates willing to start running again soon after losing a close race can be successful in their next outing. In the 9th District in in southwest Indiana, Republican Mike Sodrel was beaten by Democratic Rep. Baron Hill in 2002 and then won in 2004, before losing his next two races. The 2nd District has been the land of second chances. Republican Chris Chocola won in 2002 after losing to Democrat Tim Roemer two years earlier. Then Democrat Joe Donnelly, now running for the U.S. Senate, beat Chocola in 2006 after losing to him two years earlier.

Republican Jackie Walorski, who lost to Donnelly by 2,538 votes two years ago, is hoping the trend continues. She started running again less than five months later. She said it's been difficult to maintain such a long campaign, but her husband has been very supportive.

Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, said there are four races that could be close, although he believes each favors the Republican this time around.

Those races include the one between Walorski and Democrat Brendan Mullen in a district that includes South Bend; a tough match between Republican Rep. Larry Bucshon and former Democratic state Rep. Dave Crooks in the district around Evansville known as the "Bloody 8th" because of its history of close, contentious races; the contest between Rep. Todd Young and Democrat Shelli Yoder in the southeastern area of the state; and Republican former U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks' run against Democratic state Rep. Scott Reske in an district that includes a part of Indianapolis and nearby areas.

If Republicans win all those races and everything else goes as Downs expects, Republicans would have a 7-2 edge in the congressional delegation. That would be the most lopsided split since the GOP led by the same margin in 2004. But just two years after that, Democrats bounced back and won three seats to win a 5-4 advantage.

That's part of the reason Downs said it might not be as bad as Democrats feared after Republicans took advantage of the once-per-decade redrawing of congressional boundaries to give their candidates an advantage. Congressional districts are supposed to be revised after each census to reflect population changes in the past decade.

"This could be one of those years where as far as the win-loss sheets go, you could say that was a really bad year for Democrats," Downs said. "But you take a race that somebody was supposed to win in a walk and it's less than 10 points, suddenly you start asking yourself what could happen two years from now."

Mullen, who is running for office for the first time, said while Walorski, who served three terms in the Indiana General Assembly, has essentially been running full-time for four years, he's not sure how much of an advantage that will be. He believes many identify her as a tea party candidate, and he thinks being a newcomer is a positive.

"The people of the 2nd Congressional District aren't looking for a professional candidate. They're looking for a voice that has real-world experience," he said. "Despite the fact I've been at this for 18 months and she's been at it four straight years, this thing is razor close."

Walorski said she doesn't know whether running back-to-back campaigns gave her a better shot in the end.

"I'm not a prognosticator," she said.

Asked whether he'd take Downs' advice and run again if he loses, Mullen said he couldn't think about that now.

In southwest Indiana, Bucshon said there advantages and disadvantages to running as an incumbent. He is a heart surgeon and was a political newcomer when he defeated Democratic state Rep. Trent Van Haaften for the seat Democrat Brad Ellsworth gave up to make an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate.

"People know who you are and know what you stand for, for the most part. That's a positive thing," he said. "On the other hand, now you have policy differences with your opponent and now that you have a voting record. So even though I'm running on my record and I'm proud of my record. But now I have a record that my opponent can attack me on."

Bucshon said he believes it's a level playing field in his current race because Crooks was a state legislator from 1996 to 2008 and has a record to defend.

Crooks, who began campaigning in April 2011, said it's hard because there's a constant focus on raising money.

"That's one reason these campaigns are starting sooner than normal because it took me 18 months to raise $1 million," he said.


  • Ready to Skate???
    Jackie Warloski said "it's been difficult to maintain such a long campaign". Is she expecting service in the House to be easier? Maybe the folks in the 2nd ought to think about it.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

  2. Great news IRL fans: TURBO the IMS sanctioned movie about slugs running the Indy 500 has caught the Securities and Exchange Commission because Dreamworks had to take a $132MILLION write down...because the movie was such a flop. See, the Indy/IMS magic soiled another pair of drawers. Bwahahahahahaha! How's CARTOWN doing? HAHAHAHA...Indy is for losers.

  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

  4. I read the retail roundup article and tried Burritos and Beers tonight. I'm glad I did, for the food was great. Fresh authentic Mexican food. Great seasoning on the carne asada. A must try!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...