By Scott Tibbs, November 2, 2008
One year from today, voters will go to the polls to choose between sending Baron Hill back to Washington for another term or replacing him with a Republican. There are two Republicans actively running to replace Hill, with another contender considering a run: Todd Young, Travis Hankins and Mike Sodrel. Scott Fluhr has extensively covered the Ninth District race over at Hoosier Pundit. My position on Baron Hill is pretty well-established. Allow me to post some of my thoughts on the Republican contenders.
Mike Sodrel: Mike isn't technically in the race yet. He's faced off against Baron Hill in four consecutive elections, coming close in 2002 and unseating Hill in 2004, before losing in 2006 and 2008. I have a personal loyalty to Mike, and while I don't have a problem with the other candidates, it would be difficult for me to justify not supporting Mike in the primary. He's got an extensive network of loyal volunteers and a proven capacity to raise money. He has a "down home" style of speaking that resonates with many voters and he's very well-read and well-informed. My only reservation is whether Mike actually wants this race. 2010 will be a bare-knuckle brawl and while Baron Hill has drawn criticism for his meltdowns, he will be a formidable candidate in 2010. If Mike is motivated to run as hard as he can, he can return to Congress.
Todd Young: Todd is an attorney and has been actively running since January. He's the choice of the party establishment in Indianapolis, but that could be a disadvantage if conservatives are disaffected with the Republican Party leadership and are seeking a "movement" conservative. Holding town hall meetings while Baron Hill was hiding from his constituents was a smart move. There have been some concerns about fundraising, but it is early and he has raised decent money. If the Republican Party decides to make this district a priority (and they should, because if Baron Hill loses that will be a huge setback to his efforts to be Governor in 2012) Todd can be competitive and defeat Hill next November.
Travis Hankins: Travis is trying to be the "movement" conservative in this race. He's attended tea parties and conservative events. I first met him at the 2007 Fall Rally for Life, when his twin brother was running for Congress. He's doing his best to build grassroots support and I appreciate that he is making opposition to abortion a priority in this campaign. The biggest concern about Travis is his age, and I feel old saying that. He is 28 years old, and while it's not unprecedented for someone that young to win a Congressional seat, it would be difficult. I wonder if he would be better served to run for a state legislative district before jumping into the big pool.
Philosophically, all three candidates are very similar. All three are staunchly anti-abortion. Mike has supported anti-abortion legislation and worked with efforts to strengthen the pro-life movement. Todd has served on the board of the Crisis Pregnancy Center. Travis has made opposition to abortion a central plank of his campaign. All three candidates are fiscally conservative, supporters of lower taxes and limited government. All three candidates oppose Barack Obama's efforts to have the federal government take over the nation's health care system. While I have a favorite candidate in this race, I would be happy with any of the three as the Republican nominee in November.