40 in 2010: IN-09

Cross-posted at The Skeptical Michigander

(In order for the Republicans to take back the House in 2010, they need to net 40 seats. It’s a long shot, but it is possible. By my count, there are 74 Dem-held seats that the Republicans have at least an outside chance of winning. That number will change as we get closer to election time, of course. But for now, I’ll be highlighting some of these seats from time to time.)

Indiana 02
Location: All of SE Indiana, including Bloomington, Clarksville, Madison, and Columbus

Incumbent: Baron Hill
Hill’s been in office since 1998, except for the 04-06 session. He’s a Blue Dog, one of the top ones no less. By Blue Dog, though, it appears that he’s socially conservative and economically liberal. Not surprising for a Hoosier. He tends to oppose abortion and gun control. But seeing as 2010 will likely be about spending, well, he might have some problems there. He voted for both the stimulus bill and Cap and Trade. He’s made conflicting remarks regarding his support of the Health Care package, but it looks like he’ll vote for it.

He’s also been in the news a bit recently for acting like a, well, Baron. Not only was he one of the Congressmen calling health care opponents “terrorists”, but he actually defended the remark. And, of course, he’s made some news lately with his “I don’t want to end up on Youtube” rant (yeah, that’ll stop them…).

So if the fine voters of IN-09 get some Tea Party, anti-incumbent fever, those sorts of outbursts may come back to haunt him in a year.

Cook Partisan Index: R+6
Cook Race Rating: Likely Dem
CQ Politics Race Rating: Dem Favored
Rothenberg Rating: Limited Risk
(Note that, this far away, all these ratings are geared towards the incubent. Take them with a grain of salt)

Previous election results:
McCain 50, Obama 49
Bush 59, Kerry 40
Hill 58, Sodrel (R) 38 (2008)
Hill 50, Sodrel 46 (2006)
Hill 49, Sodrel 50 (2004)

Confirmed Republican Candidates:
Todd Young
Travis Hankins

Young looks like a pretty solid, conservative candidate. He’s a veteran, lawyer, and NOT a career politician. His website’s a bit light on the issues (not surprising, really), but what’s there is enlightening. Among his major issues are things like Demanding Congress slow down, refusing bailouts, and shrinking the size of bills. In other words, he’s talking about some of the underlying problems instead of just the typical Republican talking points. He’s also been holding his own town hall meetings and (in a nice Take That! moment, putting the entire thing on Youtube) and has a reasonably active website. He’s also already raised $90k so far, which isn’t that bad for a relative unknown.

Hankins also seems to be a reasonable conservative, having appeared at Tea Parties and going through all the Rightwing talking points. He’s a big fan of Mike Pence, which should tell you enough about his priorities. His issues page looks a bit more traditional than Young’s however, although I do like the bit about asking his constituents to yell at him if he ever starts acting like a politician… Like Young, he’s not a politician, and does not appear to be as politically active as him. He has not had as much success in fundraising either ($34k).

Sodrel’s also rumbled about running again, but after winning only once in the past 4 elections, um, I’m thinking it’s time he give it a rest.

Frankly, either one of these two men look like solid conservatives, and so it will come down to which one would be a more effective candidate, both in terms of campaigning and legistlating assuming one of them wins. Young seems to have the upper edge in campaigning at this point (and personally, I think he’d be the better candidate), but you can decide for yourselves.

So how winnable is this seat? Hill’s fundraising has been average so far, and this is a Republican leaning district. His arrogant remarks probably wouldn’t sit well with his constituents, but that depends on how well reported they were. Also, one has to wonder how many of his constituents will realize that Indiana is one of the few states that isn’t in a budget crisis, and the only reason for that is their (Republican) Governer. If the fiscal crisis continues to be the big story in 2010, then someone in the same vein as Mitch Daniels might cause an upset. It’s certainly not at the top of the Republicans’ list, but in a wave election this seat is vulnerable.

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