Congressional Races Heating Up

Now that we have that little announcement about the Governor’s race out of the way, the Congressional races decided they wanted in on the fun.

Jim Shella and Matt Tully have both reported that Luke Messer issued a statement following Mike Pence’s announcement for Governor. Shella indicates Messer will hold a formal announcement in the next few weeks. Messer is from Shelby County and was drawn into the 6th.   We have heard of a few other people being interested, including Wayne County Sheriff Matt Strittmatter.  That said, we would expect to see some pretty big hitters come out behind Messer after an impressive effort in the 5th Congressional District against Dan Burton.

Another interesting development  just reported by Hoosier Access is that Congressman Marlin Stutzman may be behind the push for a primary challenger to Jackie Walorski in the 2nd District.  State Senator Carlin Yoder is speculated to be weighing a challenge to Walorski but our friends at Hoosier Access hear that rumor is being pushed by Stutzman and his staff and is not based on actual actions by Yoder.  We’re unsure why Stutzman would want to wade into this since so much effort was put into drawing a Republican district and Walorski is rumored to already be working with the NRCC on her race. 

We’re not sure if there is some kind of a feud we do not know about playing here.  We do know that Stutzman wanted to keep some of Elkhart County and it was given to Walorski.  Still, that seems like a small reason to jump into a race that should be an a quick and easy primary with a focus on the general election.

For the Democrats, all seems to be quiet at this point outside of the 8th District where Bucshon has two Democrats fighting it out in a primary for a chance to go against him in the fall.

WSP Re-Districting Analysis: Congressional Districts

We’ve been meaning to get this post up for the last few days but, sadly, we do actually have real jobs.  We’re working on doing a full analysis on the implications of re-districting and will start with the Congressional Districts.  

The 1st Congressional District remains a safe Democrat seat for Pete Visclosky to sit in until he dies if he so chooses.  He is unlikely to have any serious opposition in either the Primary or General Elections.  In fact, its biggest impact is on the 2nd Congressional District.

The 2nd Congressional District was molded as a district for Jackie Walorksi.  The district has taken out the highly Democratic Michigan City and given it to the 1st District while Howard County and the Democrat area of Kokomo were drawn out completely. They also added some nice Republican spots in Elkhart and Kosciusko counties and all of Miami County. 

Will Jackie have a primary?  We’re hearing yes but we highly doubt anyone is going to beat her.  She is known as a tough campaigner and is putting together a campaign team that is already working with the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee.  We strongly believe Congressman Donnelly was already focused on running for U.S. Senate in 2012 and this district makes that more likely.  We’re not sure who the Democrats have warming up on the bench. 

The 3rd Congressional District, much like the 1st, has a bigger impact on the 2nd than on itself.  Several key Republican areas were sliced out of the 3rd and given to the 2nd.  Regardless, it looks to be a fairly safe Republican district provided Congressman Stutzman does not make any major mistakes.

In the 4th Congressional District, we have a very nice Republican map.  Unfortunately for Congressman Todd Rokita, it does not include his home. This is not an issue as we have heard for some time that Rokita planned to move to Hendricks County.  It is a good thing since Rokita has about as many friends in the Legislature as we have in the Kennedy for Mayor HQ.  The Congressman made a lot of enemies by putting out his own re-districting plan last year when he was Secretary of State.  No better way to piss off the legislature than messing with the maps.  Ironic that they used re-districting as a way to get back at him, huh?

The 5th District is interesting but, as usual, it is due to Primary implications rather than General election races.  Congressman Dan Burton has a good district for the General but not so much for the Primary.  The northern portion of the old 5th is where Burton got his votes and it was put in the 3rd District.  If you think his dustup with Messer was close in 2010, check out the numbers if this had been the district.  The race would have come down to a few hundred votes rather than a few thousand.  Burton was able to use his friends in the legislature to push Shelby County, Messer’s home county, out of the 5th.  David McIntosh, however, is based in Madison County and that is in the 5th District.  Will McIntosh take Burton out?  God, we hope so because someone should. 

The 6th district looks to be fairly Republican but not so Republican that a poorly run race would be guaranteed victory.  Congressman Mike Pence is all but declared to run for Governor.  We expect he will announce sometime after the legislative session ends so he can start fundraising.  Luke Messer is said to be taking a close look at the district and we expect he will run.  McIntosh is said to be interested as well.  While McIntosh is registered in Madison County, the new 6th has several of the counties he used to represent. We’re not all that enthused about a McIntosh return to Indiana…unless it is to finally rid our delegation of Dan Burton.  There are a few other names being tossed around but none that should cause too much of an issue if Messer goes all in.

The new 7th District is a bit of a mystery.  Democrats say it is solidly Democrat while the Republicans seem to be split.  We’ve heard some say it is a lock for the Democrats and some who are hopeful that the addition of the Republican Southside will make the district competitive.  Either way, we think you’ll see a much more energized race there in 2012 than usual.  Congressman Carson will crush any opponent in the Primary and the General could be interesting if the Republicans can get a legitimate candidate.  Marvin Scott, this is not a request for you to throw your hat in.  The likelihood of getting a strong Republican candidate could be impacted by the 2011 Mayor’s race.

The 8th District lost some key Republican areas to the 4th and 9th Congressional districts and may well become the Bloody Eighth of  the past. Congressman Bucshon should be safe in the Primary election.  The General will really depend on who the Democrats can get to run.  Democrats appear to be courting Brad Ellsworth for a curtain call but we don’t see it happening.  He just got a great gig  and he lost his home congressional district to Coats in his U.S. Senate bid.  If John Gregg is the Democrat Governor candidate, it could make things interesting in the 8th  (and 9th as well) but we still don’t think the Democrats have a candidate to beat Congressman Bucshon.

Finally, the 9th District looks a bit better than it use to for Congressman Todd Young.  Since this district has been tossed back and forth between the two parties like a hot potato, it is not surprising that Republicans decided to clean it up some.  The district is more Republican than in the past and it looks much more favorable for Young to fend of Primary challengers.  Many of the counties drawn out were won by his 2010 Primary opponents. The district does still include Jackson County where former Congressman Baron Hill resides.  We would think Hill has had enough of fighting for this district for a decade but you never know.  We would say the 9th is more Republican than before but by no means a lock.

Food for Thought: Initial Congressional District Vote Breakdowns with New Boundaries

We ran some quick numbers from the 2010 Congressional candidate election results on the new Congressional District boundaries.  We put counties where their majority is which does not give a completely accurate picture of the districts but it does provide estimates. 

There are a few key things to note.

For District 1, we included the Michigan City portion of LaPorte County.  In District 2, we included all of Kosciusko County.  That means District 3 did not get any of it.  For District 4, we did not include any the portions it received in Morgan or Howard County.  Those would probably offset each other and it is a pretty Republican district regardless. 

In District 5, we included all of Howard County and Washington, Lawrence and Pike Townships in Marion which will likely make it a bit more Democrat leaning that it will turn out to be.  In District 6, we did not include the portion of Scott County slotted to be there.   District 7 does not include the sections we gave to District 5 which will in turn make it seem slightly more competitive than it actually will be. 

District 8 did not receive any of Crawford County that it is slotted to receive.  Finally, District 9 received all of Scott and Crawford counties when it will receive half of each.

CD DEM % LIB % GOP %
1 60.4% 2.8% 36.8%
2 41.9% 5.0% 53.1%
3 33.2% 4.4% 62.4%
4 28.4% 5.6% 66.0%
5 37.9% 8.9% 53.2%
6 30.3% 5.7% 64.1%
7 46.8% 5.2% 48.0%
8 39.1% 4.9% 56.0%
9 37.2% 5.3% 57.6%

District Maps? Who Needs Them? The 2012 General Election Has Begun.

Today, Jackie Walorski announced she will be running for Congress in the 2nd District, wherever that may be, in 2012. One side effect of the ridiculous two-month legislative walk-out from Democrats is the lack of district maps for the 2012 election cycle.  It is tough for a candidate to announce they plan to run in a district they do not even know the lines for but they cannot exactly just wait on the sidelines. 

Walorski, however, is better positioned to move forward in announcing her campaign since her home is fairly safely in the 2nd District.  That and the fact that it has long been rumored that a Congressional District will be drawn with her in mind in exchange for her willingness to run against Donnelly in 2010. 

There is a reason Joe Donnelly is interested in the U.S. Senate seat–his Congressional District will be fairly cozy for a Republican in 2012.

Below is Walorski’s announcement email.

Dear Supporter,

As one of my loyal supporters I wanted you to be one of the first to know that I am running for the United States Congress.

I am running because I believe we need to get our country back on track. We need to get our economy moving again so businesses can create jobs; and I believe it’s time to stop the reckless government spending that drives up the federal deficit while passing on massive debt to our children.

The current leadership in our country has failed us. They have promised more jobs, and less spending, but we continue to see record deficits, and unemployment in North Central Indiana still remains over ten percent. In the State House, I stood up to the big spenders to cut waste and balance the budget without raising taxes, and I understand that we need to keep taxes low and regulation less burdensome so that our small businesses can grow and create jobs.

I pledge to you that in Congress I will vote to cut spending and get our nation on track to balance its budget. It’s going to require tough decisions, and the ability to stand strong for what you and I believe in, but that is what leadership is.

I have been humbled by the outpouring of support and encouragement by my friends, volunteers, and Hoosiers across our district. I want you to know that no matter what the district map ultimately looks like, or who my opponent eventually is, I couldn’t be more committed to the 2nd District, and fighting for a smaller more responsible government and a strong economy.

 You have stood with me before, and I ask you to stand with me again as we, together, work to make the changes necessary in our country.

Yours truly,

 

Jackie Walorski

Congressman Buyer Loses His Cool

Today Congressman Steve Buyer completely lost his cool on the House floor when the presiding Democrat would not allow him to address the House. Buyer responded, “This is why the American people have thrown you out of power”.   Click the picture below to watch it on YouTube.

Congressman Buyer was eventually allowed to speak after they cut off his microphone for a few moments.

Mike Pence Speaking at the Detroit Economic Club

Congressman Mike Pence is speaking at the Detroit Economic Club this afternoon.  The Indy Star says the speech is likely to focus on “Pence’s ‘vision for economic growth, prosperity and job creation’”.

Indiana’s Legislative Insight noted that this is a normal speaking engagement for presidential hopefuls and that Pence will look “to prove his national economic bona fides.”

We’ll be watching this speech closely. We maintain that Congressman Pence is running for Governor but has generally focused his message on a conservative social agenda and national issues. 

Governor of Indiana is a job that requires a firm grasp on economic issues and more than talking points on balanced budgets and lowering spending.  The Congressman has yet to really focus on these issues so far. This speech is a perfect opportunity to keep national pundits talking while moving his messaging in a direction more suitable for a bid for Governor.

Election Recap

2nd District

Congressman Joe Donnelly barely held on to his seat in the 2nd District, defeating State Representative Jackie Walorski by just over 3,000 votes. He did it in a year where everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at him from both an attack and monetary perspective as the race was targeted by independent expenditures from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads group.  This was clearly the Democrats best hope for saving a seat here in Indiana as the district is far more Democrat leaning than both 8 and 9.

 At the end of the day, Walorski was one issue short of victory but she may not be next time. It has been long rumored that if Walorski did not pick up the victory, the House Republicans plan to draw a more favorable district for her as a reward for taking on the fight in 2010.

It sounds like we’ll have a rematch.  And speaking of rematches…

9th District

I know, it isn’t the correct numeric order but you can’t talk about rematches and not think about the 9th District’s Sodrel-Hill saga.  I think everyone can be happy that Todd Young won if only because we won’t have to worry about Sodrel jumping back in saying he was the best to take on Hill and going for rematch #987.

But seriously,   the 9th District is the only true swing district and it swung with the Republican wave that took over the U.S. House of Representatives. One thing to watch will be redistricting.  Obviously Republicans will want to take the “swing” out of this district but Todd Young lives in Monroe County.  It seems like that would be the first place you’d want to cut out as a Republican and it isn’t really an option.  

Also, what is a former Congressman to do—run for Governor or sit and sulk waiting to start the next generation of rematches?

8th District

The 8th District went back to red as Dr. Larry Bucshon defeated Brad Ellsworth’s fill-in Trent VanHaaften.  This is a district that would never have gone Democrat if it weren’t for Ellsworth being a great fit for the district—that is before he voted for health care and decided to run for U.S. Senate. 

Who knows if the health care vote would have sunk Ellsworth in a run for re-election but we can say for sure that he would have had a better chance of reclaiming the seat.  Chalk it up as another Evan Bayh casualty. 

Keep watching for what ends up happening with VanHaaften’s former seat.  Democrat candidate Bob Deig was only ahead by 20 votes and it has recount written all over it.

U.S. Senate Race: Dan Coats Cruises to a Huge Victory

This week Dan Coats was elected to take over Senator Evan Bayh’s seat. Coats won by a huge margin, earning 56% of the vote compared to Ellsworth’s 38%.

So what does this race tell us? First, the lobbyist argument from the Ellsworth camp just didn’t work. People didn’t like it but no one cared enough to vote against a guy that they liked when he served as a Senator before.

Second, people in Indiana clearly have some buyer’s remorse from voting for Obama. Hoosiers don’t like the health care reform and this certainly wasn’t the change they were hoping for when they made history and voted for a Democrat presidential candidate for the first time since 1964.

Third, Ellsworth isn’t as great as we all thought. Most people thought this would be a tough race and that Ellsworth had a chance. He had a financial advantage since he had no primary contest and he is billed as a pro-life and pro-gun candidate. Bowing to Obama and voting for health care reform certainly didn’t help him but the bottom line is he never got the traction that he should have and word on the street is that Democrats weren’t impressed with him as a campaigner. Don’t plan on seeing him on a statewide ticket any time soon.

Fourth, Evan Bayh really screwed the Democrat Party but apparently they don’t care. You could defend Brad Ellsworth and say that Bayh set him up for failure to begin with and you would be correct. Yet we still hear excitement about having Bayh run for Governor.

The bottom line: This race was a snoozer to watch but the results are a big deal. We’ve now got two Republican Senators from Indiana although both of them have shown an independent streak and willingness to buck their Party. But we’ve also got a Senator who is running for his last term and we probably just elected one who will not seek re-election.  There will be all sorts of maneuvering by aspiring politicos to line up to take their place.

Election Recap

Now that we have the introductions and a little 2012 news out of the way, we can start talking about the fun stuff. There is no better way to start this blog than recapping the recent elections and the results really mean. This will be a weeklong series where we will discuss the following races:

• U.S. Senate
• Targeted Congressional Districts 2, 8, and 9
• Indiana State House
• Indiana State Senate
• Marion County Prosecutor and Sheriff contests

Stay tuned.

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