IN-08: Buschon Embraces Health Care Status Quo; Risk Shut Out

Thomas Langhorne has an article entitled GOP silences Bucshon challenger at dinner wherein he reports on Rep. Larry Buschon speaking at the Vanderburgh County GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner while his primary challenger, Kristi Risk, was not given an opportunity to speak.

Risk seemed to take it in stride, making a point to emphasize that the voters and not the party leadership ultimately gets to decide who the nominee is.

In the course of his remarks, Buschon apparently criticized Democratic challenger, Dave Crooks, for supporting health care reform. I’m not sure Buschon wants to go there. I’ll confess I know nothing about Buschon’s prior career. But, here is the default perception. He was a surgeon. He probably profited mightily from the health care status quo and has apparently parlayed that success into a position in Congress where he is now defending the status quo. But, guess what, the status quo of the U.S. health care system sucks for most people; a spiral of rising costs and ever-more illusory insurance coverage. Other than some hand waving and mumbling about “tort reform” and cross-state insurance sales, I’m guessing Rep. Buschon doesn’t have a lot of solid suggestions. “I’m from the health care industry, and I’m here to help” might not be too reassuring to voters these days. Certainly not if you have a pre-existing health condition.

IN-08: Dave Crooks Gets Democratic Party Endorsement

Former state representative and current Congressional candidate, Dave Crooks, got the Democratic Party endorsement to challenge incumbent Representative Larry Buschon for the 8th District Congressional seat. In a procedure I have not seen before (though my history watching such things is pretty limited), the 8th District Democratic party chairs caucused and voted for Crooks to be the party’s nominee this year.

The candidates to be the Democratic nominee were Crooks and Patrick Scates, a former aide to Brad Ellsworth. Warrick County Democratic Chairman Terry White had also been a nominee but dropped out earlier this week. Scates and Crooks agreed to let the nomination be decided through a caucus process. Technically, the primary will still go forward and another candidate could file, but in all likelihood this settles the matter.

The idea is to avoid a bruising, expensive primary battle. Typically, I disagree with that common wisdom. My belief is that primaries leave candidates better organized and better tested. However, watching the current GOP Presidential campaigns, that belief is being challenged. Having no direct experience with campaigns, I also have little sense of the financial concerns. So, whatever the political merits of going through with a traditional primary, it might well be that the Democratic nominee was unlikely to have the financial wherewithal to mount both a serious primary campaign and a general campaign against an incumbent.

Personally, I’m happy with the result. I’ve mentioned before that I have had the opportunity to work with Dave when he was in the legislature and was even lucky enough to be on his radio show a couple of years back. He’s a smart, stand up guy who would serve the 8th District well. This is not, by the way, to take anything away from Scates or White with whom I have no experience.

IN-08: Dave Crooks

I don’t do a lot of campaign plugs around here, but I’ll make an exception for Dave Crooks. I think I’ve mentioned that I had opportunity to work with Dave when he was a state representative from Washington, Indiana. I was a new staffer with the Legislative Service Agency, and I always appreciated that Dave was never too busy for my questions and was conscientious in his approach to legislating.

Now he’s seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run against Larry Buschon in Indiana’s 8th District. The folks in the 8th District would be better served by Dave than just about anyone else I can think of, including Larry Buschon. So, I’ll just take a moment to encourage folks to go check out Dave and maybe send his campaign a few bucks if you’re able. (Campaign site; Facebook site; Twitter.)

Busy Primary Season

There is some unrest in the air, making this a busy primary season. The Lafayette Journal & Courier has a list of people who will be on local ballots.

Don Bates, Jr., Richard Behney, Dan Coats, John N. Hostettler, Marlin A. Stutzman
Coats is a former Hoosier, lobbyist, and very retro – I don’t think he captures the mood of the Republicans. Behney has come off as a blowhard, talking about playing with his guns if he doesn’t get his way. Hostettler is a wingnut. I don’t know much of anything about Bates. Stutzman has been a state legislator, giving him a veneer of respectability, who has a reputation as very conservative, which will play well in the primary.

D: Peter J. Visclosky*, Woody Wilcox
R: Adam A. Dombkowski, Ric Holtz, Mark Leyva, Peter Lindemulder III, Eric L. Olson, Robert Pastore, Michael Petyo, Jayson Reeves

Visclosky has some ethics issues dogging him, but, so far as I know, it’s just investigatory at this point. He has to be regarded as a heavy favorite at this point.

D: Joe Donnelly*
R: Martin A. Dolan, Jack Edward Jordan, Jackie Walorski, Tony Zirkle
Any primary fight that involves Wacky Jackie battling with a disbarred (pdf) Illinois Nazi supporter should be one to watch. I don’t know anything about Dolan and Jordan – they might be credible challengers.

D: Tara E. Nelson, Mark Powell, David Sanders
R: Jon Acton, Cheryl Denise Allen, Mike Campbell, Daniel L. Dunham, James T. (Jim) Hass, Brandt Hershman, LaRon Keith, Todd Rokita, Mark Seitz, Ed Soliday, Phillip J. (PJ) Steffen, Phil J. Thorpe, Eric L. Wathen, R. Michael Young

David Sanders is a Purdue professor and a great guy, but has not, historically, been able to raise the kind of funds necessary to compete against Steve Buyer in this district. He threw his hat in the ring when nobody else was going to, which is good because it would have been a shame if Rep. Buyer had gone completely unchallenged in the wake of his Frontier Foundation shenanigans. Off hand, I don’t know anything about Mark Powell or Tara Nelson who will compete with him in the primary. The real action, at this point, is in the Republican primary. IN-04 is a heavily Republican district and would-be Congressmen came out of the woodwork when Buyer announced he was stepping down. Right now, I’d probably give Hershman and Rokita the edge in this crowded field. Rokita because he has name recognition, and Hershman because the Fourth is his turf probably more than the others, as a state Senator from the Lafayette area and as someone very involved in Buyer’s campaigns. I’m not sure how well the Indianapolis types will fare in this sprawling district.

D: Brad Ellsworth*, W. Trent Van Haaften
R: Bud Bernitt, Larry D. Bucshon, Billy J. Mahoney, Kristi Risk, John Lee Smith, John K. Snyder, Dan Stockton, Steve Westell

This one is interesting because Ellsworth is probably going to take a stab at the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Evan Bayh which would leave Van Haaften as the Democratic candidate. Trent is a state representative who has been known to read and even comment on this blog from time to time which automatically makes him a man of discerning tastes. I am not immediately familiar with the Republican candidates.

There are also plenty of state and local races. I won’t comment on the local races because I live and work here and don’t like crapping in my nest, so to speak. But one item of interest, I see that for Indiana House District 15, currently occupied by Don Lehe, there is someone on the Democratic ballot going by the name of, and I quote, “John (The Man) Malan.”

Hostettler for Senate

John Hostetler, former representative of Indiana’s 8th District, has announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination to run against Sen. Evan Bayh. For a brief moment, I considered his candidacy. It’s no secret I haven’t been terribly happy with Sen. Bayh lately. And, Hostettler voted against the Iraq War. Furthermore, he was fairly consistent in opposing federal spending even where it would benefit Republican constituencies. But, then I started remembering some of the reasons why I didn’t much care for Rep. Hostetler when he was representative of IN-08.

He tried to defund the U.S. Marshal’s office to prevent compliance with a Ten Commandments judicial order with which he disagreed.

He claimed that Democrats could not help themselves from demonizing and denigrating Christians.

He opposes “divorce on demand” as contrary to public policy which, he suggests, should be rooted in “Scriptural truth.”

I’m sure there were plenty of others, but those jumped out at me.

IN-08: Assessing Ellsworth’s Competition for 2010

Thomas Langhorn has an article in the Evansville Courier Press about GOP hopes to capture a seat which seem to be pinned on Dr. Larry Bucshon who opposes a public insurance option as a means of fixing our health care system. I suppose the way you combat a candidate like that is to point out that, of course he opposes any real fix to the health care problem — after all, he’s doing well enough under the current system. (Assuming, of course, that Dr. Bucshon has been prospering under the current system — I don’t actually know anything about him.)

The Courier Press article mentions that no opponent has anything like a campaign organization comparable to what Ellsworth had at a similar point in the election cycle when he unseated John Hostetler. The article mentions the common wisdom that 2010 will be a bad year for Democrats – and you would expect that based on the fact that governing is always harder than campaigning – but, as of yet, there is not much in the way of polling data that suggests Republicans are convincing people they have a better idea for fixing what ails us. That might change in the next few months, but memories of the last 10 years are still pretty fresh in people’s minds.

Troy “I’ll Never Vote For It” Woodruff Rumored As Challenger to Brad Ellsworth

Hoosier Access is reporting that Troy “I’ll Never Vote for It” Woodruff is rumored as a potential Republican candidate to challenge Brad Ellsworth for the right to represent Indiana’s 8th Congressional District. Woodruff is, of course, the one term state representative who got bounced after having reneged on a promise to his constituents never to vote for Daylight Saving Time only to become the deciding vote in DST’s Lazarus-like journey to become a fact of life in Indiana.

Aside from the Daylight Saving Time thing, Woodruff is a hardcore abortion opponent, eyebrows were raised when his wife was awarded a State job after Troy pushed Gov. Daniel’s DST proposal over the top and when Gov. Daniels used the State of Indiana’s RV in a fundraising event for Woodruff, and Woodruff thinks the root of the insurance/health care crisis has a lot to do with Hoosiers being fat, lazy nicotine addicts with hypochondriac children (I’m paraphrasing).

2010 is a long way off, but I suppose I like Ellsworth’s chances in that match-up.

Congressional Fundraising

Blue Indiana has a handy chart listing Congressional fund raising number for the quarter. Of note:

Indiana’s 2nd, 7th, and 8th appear locked up for the freshmen Democrats, Donnelly, Ellsworth, and Carson, respectively, in those seats. Their challengers have not raised any money to speak of.

Baron Hill seems to be doing very well in Indiana’s 9th with $684k on hand compared to Sodrel’s $263k.

In Indiana’s 3rd District, Mike Montagano has a disturbingly low cash on hand of $31k compared to Mark Souder’s $450k. However, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been putting money into this race, so that might explain why his cash on hand has been allowed to get low and provide him with money to finish strong.

In Indiana’s 4th District, Nels Ackerson has put up some solid numbers, but he has his work cut out for him with $100k on hand compared to Buyer’s $800k. In fact, I received a copy of Buyer’s press release which states his intent to “own” the airwaves. We’ll see if his PAC money can buy this thing or if Ackerson has enough money to make a run for it.

Visclosky (IN-01), Burton (IN-05), and Pence (IN-06) also seem to have things locked up fairly well based on a comparison of their war chests to the money of their challengers.

Hostettler on Iraq: It Was the Jews

I don’t know how the book actually reads, but this article about John Hostettler’s new book makes it sound a little like he’s alleging a conspiracy between the Trilateral Commission and followers of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion that led us to war in Iraq.

Hostettler, who despite his other faults is to be credited for voting against war in Iraq, has a book out that apparently cites revenge and securing Israel as the driving forces toward war in Iraq – specifically revenge for the assassination attempt on George H.W. Bush in 1993 combined with highly placed Jews in the Pentagon.

I don’t claim to know the role played by pro-Israeli partisans in the run up to war, but when a fervent Christian like Hostettler starts making noises like he’s blaming Jews for a national catastrophe, it makes me a little nervous.