I have decided to jump into the fray and start an official blog of my own. Being that I am on the LPIN Central Committee as District Representative for Indiana's Ninth congressional district, this blog will reflect events and happenings within my district. I will also pontificate on my own viewpoints and opinions of various things.
Last weekend the Libertarian Party of Indiana held its annual convention in Indianapolis. We nominated and selected candidates to run as Libertarians for national and state offices this year. Dr. Eric Schansberg was selected to run for US Congress in the Ninth District. He will square off against Republican incumbent Mike Sodrel and Democrat challenger Baron Hill.
Let me back up a bit for those of you who don't know the whole story. Baron Hill was our Democrat congressman from 1999 until 2005. He first won the election in 1998 after former Democrat congressman Lee Hamilton retired after being in congress for 34 years. Republican challenger Mike Sodrel first ran against him in 2002. But Baron Hill beat Mike Sodrel by almost 10,000 votes, thus holding on to his seat. Baron Hill (D) received 96,654 votes. Mike Sodrel (R) received 87,169 votes. Al Cox was our Libertarian candidate that year, and he received 2389 votes. Jeff Melton, the Green Party candidate received 2745 votes.
Let's move ahead to the 2004 elections. Democrat Baron Hill and Republican Mike Sodrel and Libertarian Al Cox faced off again. But this time there was an upset. Mike Sodrel defeated Baron Hill. The election results were as follows. Mike Sodrel (R) received 142,197 votes. Baron Hill (D) received 140,772 votes. Al Cox (L) received 4541 votes. The Green Party failed to make it on the ballot in Indiana in 2004.
Onward to the 2006 elections. Indiana had its primary elections last Tuesday May 2. Mike Sodrel (R) and Baron Hill (D) easily won their primary elections. So they will face off in November for the third time in a row. The difference is that this time, Dr. Eric Schansberg is our Libertarian candidate. I have known Eric for a few years, since I joined the party in fact. I believe he will make a fine candidate. Mike Sodrel should be sweating bullets. Mike Sodrel campaigned on a platform of smaller government. But his voting record shows the exact opposite. I will expose his entire voting record here for you to see and judge for yourselves.
What about Al Cox? Why didn't he run again? I spoke to Al a few months ago, and he indicated that he didn't want to run again. Plus he is a strong supporter of Dr. Schansberg's candidacy. Dr. Schansberg has selected Melanie Hughes as his campaign manager and John Harbeson as his campaign treasurer.
The Louisville newspaper the Courier Journal ran a article last Wednesday after the primary elections which mentioned and quoted Dr. Schansberg. The link is
INDIANAPOLIS — Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel and Democrat Baron Hill easily defeated their 9th District primary opponents yesterday, setting up a rematch that has attracted interest from political observers nationally.
Sodrel, the owner of several Jeffersonville transportation companies, defeated first-time challenger Sam Schultz, an auto mechanic and combat veteran. He was winning roughly 80 percent of the vote.
Hill, a former congressman from Seymour, also was far ahead of his three opponents.
Gretchen Clearwater of Bloomington, an active campaigner who could never raise the money she needed for a significant challenge, was second, followed by Lendall Terry of Versailles, who did not campaign, and John "Cosmo" Hockersmith, a first-time candidate from Vallonia.
"It's always nice to have the primary over and know who your opponent will be," Sodrel said last night from Washington, D.C., where he returned a few hours after voting to participate in floor action. "You like to get the primary behind you."
Hill, who previously held the seat for six years, said he didn't mind the primary challenge and called it a good warm-up for the fall campaign.
"It's been a reason to roll up my sleeves and get ready," he said. "I never take any election for granted, and we didn't this one. We worked at it fairly hard."
Sodrel and Hill will meet for the third time in a general election.
Hill, then the incumbent, won the first match in 2002. Sodrel unseated him in 2004 by about 1,500 votes. And political analysts are predicting another tight contest in November as Democrats try to wrest control of the House from Republicans.
At his Crystal Ball Web site, Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, has labeled the match a toss-up. So has Charlie Cook, who publishes an independent newsletter that analyzes elections and campaigns.
"Everything points to an extremely close race," said Joe Wert, a professor of political science at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany. "I would expect to see both money from the RNC and DNC (the Republican and Democratic national committees) as well as probably some big names in both parties coming in to boost both candidates."
Libertarian Eric Schansberg of Jeffersonville will be in the race as well. Schansberg, an IUS economics professor, said this week that he's not sure what his impact might be. But he plans to raise money and campaign actively.
"Most Libertarians run as fiscal conservatives and maybe (on) social issues that are not real popular. They tend to take votes away from Republicans," Schansberg said. "But given my interests and research and writing, I've got a lot of beefs with Democrats as well.
"I don't know who will defect from them to me more often — whether it's Democrats or Republicans," he said.
Hill said he expects that the general election campaign "is going to get rolling right away." He anticipates a different political climate from 2004, when voters re-elected President Bush.
"The president was fairly popular in the last election, and that had a coattail factor in the 9th District," Hill said. "This year, that coattail is not there."
Sodrel said the race actually began last year when critics began making automated calls to his constituents. But he said he hopes for voters' sake that intense campaigning won't begin in earnest until after Labor Day.
Hill said he plans to challenge Sodrel to a debate this month.
In yesterday's voting, the challengers to Sodrel and Hill barely made a dent.
Clearwater, who advises graduate students at Indiana University in Bloomington, did the best, with roughly a fifth of the votes cast. She maintained a comprehensive Web site and worked actively to raise money; she even bought some radio ads in which she said she was "not afraid to say no to George Bush."
But she was no real challenge to Hill, whose name recognition in the district is strong from both his successful and failed runs for office.
Hockersmith and Terry simply gained no traction.
Schultz also struggled mightily against the incumbent Sodrel but said he's pleased to have made the attempt.
"I feel I did the best I could with what I had with time and resources I had," he said last night. "I'll be back in a couple years. I'm not going to be muzzled."