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Jennings does not want another beating
John Jennings, who lost to John Hostettler 45% to 53% in last year's Congressional race, has decided not to run against Hostettler a second time.
The other 2% in the 2004 race went to the Libertarian candidate. It has never made any sense to me why Libertarians are determined to challenge Hostettler, who is one of the most consistent advocates for limited government in Congress. The best that Libertarians can hope for is to play spoiler, ensuring that the winner of the 8th District does not share the principles espoused by the "party of principle".
While Indiana's 8th Congressional district is always competitive due to the makeup of the district, John Hostettler is making it less "bloody" than it used to be. Hostettler has now won six consecutive elections, starting with his narrow defeat of Frank McCloskey in 1994 and his nail-biter against Jonathan Weinzapfel in 1996.
Hostettler does generate fierce opposition, however, especially from the left wing of the Democratic Party. In October of 1997, forest-protection activists brought a chainsaw to a Halloween-themed protest and ran it in the doorway of Hostettler's Bloomington office.
The two best opportunities Democrats had to unseat Hostettler were in 1996 (Members of Congress are traditionally most vulnerable after their first term) and 2002, when Hostettler's district was redrawn. Hostettler will have the advantage of popular Republican incumbent Secretary of State Todd Rokita at the top of the ticket. If Richard Lugar runs for re-election, his traditionally huge margin of victory will help Hostettler as well.
Barring the unlikely event of a major Democratic year in 2006, I expect Hostettler will again retain his seat.