The other day, I mentioned the Hayhurst/Souder race as potentially being competitive like the Ellsworth/Hostettler and Hill/Sodrel races. I neglected a fourth race that could be competitive: Donnelly/Chocola.
South Bend Tribune columnist Jack Colwell has a column suggesting that if Rep. Chocola has trouble defeating Joe Donnelly in the race to represent Indiana’s second Congressional District, it could be because of Mitch Daniels and local issues in which Chocola did not play an active role. The Second District goes from South Bend, west to Valparaiso and south in a roughly rectangular shape to Kokomo. The South Bend area has been where Gov. Daniels has gone to anger people the most. From breaking the law to make sure the folks in St. Joseph County did not get their time zone preference when he deigned to mess with the clocks to being hell bent on selling off the Toll Road, jacking up tolls for the benefit of the private company, and agreeing not to improve U.S. 20 for the next 75 years, Rep. Chocola’s district has borne the brunt of Gov. Daniels policy initiatives. And Rep. Chocola hasn’t lifted a finger on behalf of his constituents. Meanwhile, Gov. Daniels is polling at about 31% approval to 52% disapproval. So, Chocola could be vulnerable to anti-Daniels backlash.
Add to that Rep. Chocola’s association with Tom DeLay and convicted bribe recipient Duke Cunningham, and there are plenty of factors not directly in Rep. Chocola’s control that could make his fight to keep his seat a difficult one. And, of course, there are matters that are within Chocola’s control for which he will have to answer: for example, Chocola’s support of President Bush’s wildly unpopular plan to privatize Social Security.