Friday, January 25, 2008

WSJ on Hill vs. Sodrel vs. Schansberg

From T.W. Farnum in the WSJ (hat tip: Linda Christiansen), a story on the Sodrel/Hill third sequel...

While the national spotlight is now on the presidential nominating contests, a bitter fight looms for seats in Congress -- dramatized by a long-running political rivalry complete with expensive attack ads and alleged punches thrown.

Rep. Baron Hill and around 60 other Democrats are defending districts that went to President Bush in 2004, and former Rep. Mike Sodrel joins at least three other former Republican congressmen trying to reclaim seats they lost when Democrats won back Congress in the 2006 elections.

Mr. Sodrel declared his candidacy in October, kicking off their fourth consecutive contest in Indiana's ninth congressional district -- a seat they have both won and lost. About 80 pairs of House candidates have run against each other four or more times since the First Congress in 1788, according to a review of 30,000 elections by The Wall Street Journal. Few of those long-running rivalries have been this competitive: only half have flipped between candidates, largely before the age of expensive, drawn-out campaigns. The last time that happened was in 1950.

For a link provided to the history of multi-race campaigns, click here.

For Mr. Sodrel, a seminal moment came in 2002, moments after his first debate, in which he called Mr. Hill a "habitual politician." As the audience and the other candidates made their way out of the auditorium, Mr. Hill came up to him to shake hands. As they clasped, Mr. Sodrel says, Mr. Hill punched him. "He gave me two left hooks to the kidney," Mr. Sodrel says. "Then he got up nose-to-nose and through gritted teeth, he said, 'You're going to regret this.' " Mr. Sodrel says he has never spoken publicly about the incident before.

Mr. Hill denies it ever occurred....

I had heard this story on the campaign trail. With me, Hill has shown a bit of temper when I've messed with him, but he's been largely civil and occasionally friendly-- what one would expect and nothing worth writing home about.

In his campaign, Mr. Sodrel emphasizes free markets. "The government today has got their nose stuck in every facet of your life," he says....

Rhetoric in his campaign, yes. Reality in his voting record, not so much. If his actions came close to his words, I wouldn't have bothered to run.

Mary Dugan, 62, paused to talk about her politics, deeply shaped by her pro-life views and her work at the town's pregnancy-care center. Mrs. Dugan said she voted for Mr. Hill in 2002, switched to Mr. Sodrel in 2004 over concern about Mr. Hill's votes on abortion, and then switched back to Mr. Hill last year out of a familial allegiance to the Democratic Party.

Her explanation points to another close fight. "I felt like with Baron Hill, he didn't do a lot of the things he said he was going to," Mrs. Dugan said, "but then neither did the other guy, so now what am I going to do?...

Well, Miss Dugan, I submit that you ought to vote for me. You want someone who is pro-life with otherwise Democrat values-- presumably, more than spoken concern for the working poor and middle class. If so, I'm your candidate.

Here's their graphic on the graphic level of spending by the two major party candidates in the three races:


T.W. put my vote percentage in there. But unfortunately, he didn't write anything about the most interesting and best qualified candidate to represent Indiana's 9th Congressional District!


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