Here is my roundup of the landscape of Indiana’s Congressional Races based in large part from the election results here. I’m fully aware that I’m not necessarily an authoritative source in these matters, so I’d love to hear any opinions about the races in November.
IN-02: Democrat Joe Donnelly beat out his opponent for the opportunity for a rematch against incumbent Chris Chocola. For what it’s worth, more Democrats took out ballots in this district than did Republicans, by a margin of about 36,000 Dems to 35,000 Republicans. While not exactly a squeaker, it’s notable that Chocola only got 70% of the Republican vote against his challenger Tony Zirkle who really got beat up in the press for some of his nuttier ideas (for example: drafting deadbeat dads to go guard the border against illegal immigrants.) Donnelly has a very credible shot at taking down Chocola.
IN-03: Dr. Tom Hayhurst won the Democratic primary with 66% of the vote against 3 opponents. He will take on incumbent Mark Souder. While Hayhurst is a more credible opponent than Souder has faced in the past, in that he has political experience as a Fort Wayne politician and he has actually raised a fair amount of money, the District is heavily Republican. About 19,000 Democratic ballots were cast in that district versus about 55,000 Republican ballots.
IN-04: David Sanders beat out three opponents in the Democratic primary for the opportunity to take on incumbent Steve Buyer. This is another heavily Republican district with about 18,000 Democratic ballots having been cast versus about 69,000 Republican ballots. The breakdown may not be quite as skewed as the numbers suggest since in the 4th Congressional District there were a lot more interesting Republican primary races than Democratic ones, meaning that a number of people who might vote Democrat in the fall may have taken a Republican ballot in the primary. Still, it’s a heavily Republican district.
IN-05: Kathleen Carr beat out 3 opponents for the opportunity to be the sacrificial lamb to Dan Burton. This is probably the least competitive district in the state.
IN-06: Democrat Barry Welsh took 69% of the vote to beat his opponent and he will take on Mike Pence. Barry will have an uphill battle as the 6th District had about 33,000 Democratic ballots cast versus about 58,000 Republican ballots. However, I’ve been very impressed with Mr. Welsh’s online activity. Maybe he can get some extra traction through that avenue.
IN-07: Incumbent Julia Carson cruised to victory with 80% of the vote in a 4-way race. She will take on Republican challenger Eric Dickerson (not the running back) who managed a 50% victory in a 4-way Republican primary race despite being opposed by the local Republican establishment. The establishment candidate garnered only 21% of the vote. This is a strongly Democratic district, and Rep. Carson is likely to keep her seat.
IN-08: There were no primary challenges in this district. Democratic Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth will be challenging wingnut John Hostettler. Hostettler looks perennially vulnerable but he always manages to pull out a victory. Ellsworth is a good candidate and has a better shot than his predecessors, but Hostettler’s 9-lives caution against counting on a victory. That being said, I would say this is the Democrats 2nd best shot at taking a seat in Indiana.
IN-09: Democrat Baron Hill won the right to a rubber match against his nemesis Mike Sodrel. Hill beat Sodrel once, then lost to him in 2004. 2006 will be the rubber match between the two. I’d rate this is as the Democrats best shot at taking a seat in Indiana. Hill has won the district before, and the Democrats have a strong presence in the District. In fact, there were about 60,000 Democratic voters versus about 31,000 Republican primary voters.
So, I’d rate the districts as follows:
IN-01: Probable Democratic hold by Pete Visclosky.
IN-07: Probable Democratic hold by Julia Carson.
IN-09: Good shot at Democratic pickup by Baron Hill over Mike Sodrel.
IN-08: Good shot at Democratic pickup by Brad Ellsworth over John Hostettler.
IN-02: Reasonable shot at Democratic pickup by Joe Donnelly over Chris Chocola.
IN-03: Long shot at Democratic pickup by Tom Hayhurst over Mark Souder.
IN-06: Long shot at Democratic pickup by Barry Welsh over Mike Pence.
IN-04: Very, very long shot at Democratic pickup by David Sanders over Steve Buyer.
IN-05: Kathleen Carr will be on the ballot against Dan Burton.