By Scott Tibbs, May 6, 2010
The primary election offered a few surprises, and it will be interesting to see how races shape up this fall. Here are my thoughts on the races.
I am surprised that Marlin Stutzman leapfrogged John Hostettler and finished second in the U.S. Senate race. Unfortunately, Stutzman and Hostettler split the conservative vote and handed the Republican nomination to Dan Coats, an anti-gun "moderate" who voted to confirm the illiterate Ruth Bader Ginsburg and supported both the assault weapons ban and the Brady law. The situation is similar to 1998, when Peter Rusthoven and John Price split the conservative vote and allowed Paul Helmke, the Leftist mayor of Fort Wayne, to win the primary.
Despite his poor voting record, I will probably hold my nose and vote for Coats anyway. With Barack Obama in the White House, we need as many Republicans in the Senate to work against him as possible. Brad Ellsworth will be a lap dog for Obama and Harry Reid. While Libertarian nominee Rebecca Sink-Burris is a friend (and I voted for her in 1998) I will not vote for her this time.
Nonetheless, Coats should be on notice that simply pointing to the Democrats and saying "look how bad they are" is not going to be enough. That strategery caused the GOP to lose the House and the Senate in 2006, and got Barack Obama elected in 2008. The Republican base is sick of voting for Republicans just because the Democrats are worse. We need to have a reason to vote for the Republican, not just a reason to vote against the Democrat. Coats needs to give conservatives a reason to vote for him.
Unfortunately, Bud Bernitt did not win the 8th District. Bud worked harder than any of the candidates in the 8th. He traveled all over the district meeting people and trying to get the conservative message across. He ran because he wanted to advance conservative principles in Washington. As disappointing as the results were, there's no shame in losing. There is shame in not trying. Thanks for all you've done, Bud.
For the first time in 10 years, the general election contest in the Ninth District will not be between Mike Sodrel and Baron Hill. The late attacks from the Young campaign hurt Sodrel and pushed Young over the top. The problem Young faces now is bringing disgruntled Sodrel supporters on board who are unhappy with Young's attacks on Sodrel. I'm not one of those people, though. While I did not agree with some of the things the Young campaign did, I will enthusiastically support Young in the general election. Young is a pro-life fiscal conservative who can be counted on to vote the right way when he gets to DC.
Here in Monroe County, I was happy to see Pat Stoffers defeat Charles Newmann in the Democratic primary. The landslide margin of Stoffers' win brought a smile to my face and I am happy to see Newmann rejected by his own party as his wife was in 2008. However, I am looking forward to voting to unseat Stoffers in November.
Steve Hogan defeated Joyce Poling in District 60, which is a relief. Poling has gone off the reservation too many times and would not be a reliable vote in Indianapolis. Hogan faces a tough battle against Democrat Peggy Welch, who won three consecutive landslides despite representing a heavily Republican district. No Republican even bothered to challenge her in 2006 and 2008. If Welch can be defeated, 2010 is the year it will happen. Nonetheless, the odds are against any Republican trying to take that seat. It is important for Republicans to gain that seat, however, in order to remove Pat Bauer from the Speaker's chair.
If the primary turnout is any indication of the general election, Republicans will have a good night in November for the first time in a long time. Jim Fielder, Steven Hinds, Herb Kilmer and Ryan Langley all got more votes in the GOP primary than their opponents did in the Democratic primary, and Michael Hill got more votes than Stoffers and Newmann combined. However, this has happened before and Democrats have still won big in November. Republicans have to work hard on the ground. Republicans cannot allow the Democrats to dominate the field on national issues like they did between 2004 and 2008, and the GOP must take the student vote seriously.
Congratulations to all the winners, especially Todd Young and Larry Bucshon. Best of luck going into November.