Confessions of a Hoosier Democrat

Blogging Indiana Politics and the 2008 Presidential Race.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

IndyStar endorses Ellsworth and Donnelly

The prevailing wisdom is that The Indianapolis Star is a conservative newspaper. While that may have been tempered in the past few years after their acquisition by Gannett, they still tend to bend that way.

Which is what makes today endorsements so impressive. In today's Indianapolis Star the editorial board endorsed 7 incumbents (Viscolsky, Souder, Buyer, Burton, Carson, Sodrel and Pence) and endorse two challengers, IN-8 Brad Ellsworth and IN-2 Joe Donnelly.

Indiana 2nd District
Supporters of Rep. Chris Chocola are crying foul that he's taking blame for the leasing of the Indiana Toll Road to a private entity, an unpopular move in the Northern Indiana district.

But challenger Joe Donnelly is right to argue that a congressperson should at least have spoken up informally about the momentous deal involving an interstate highway, even if the federal government was not directly involved.

Making his second consecutive run at the Republican two-term incumbent, Democrat Donnelly could benefit enough from the Toll Road controversy and another state issue, daylight-saving time, to close the narrow margin by which he lost in 2004. Dissatisfaction with the national GOP and with the Iraq war also is behind one of the nation's closest congressional races.

At the same time, Donnelly, a well-spoken Mishawaka businessman and former State Election Board member, brings many positives of his own to the table, including sound, moderate positions on extrication from Iraq, immigration control and taxation. While Chocola in his brief tenure has established himself as an advocate for small business and fiscal sense, Donnelly is the better choice between two worthy candidates.
Indiana 8th District
The "Bloody Eighth" District in Southern Indiana is living up to the nickname it has earned in a succession of close and bitter elections over the years. Will the outspoken maverick Rep. John Hostettler survive to see a seventh term?

Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth is the strongest Democrat so far to take on Hostettler, and their race has drawn national attention, with the dollars to match. The incumbent hopes his base of social and fiscal conservatives will carry him through once again; but Ellsworth should have broader appeal, thanks not only to his more congenial persona but also to his stands on key issues.

Ellsworth astutely presents himself as an alternative to the incivility and partisanship that have afflicted Congress and colored some of Hostettler's rhetoric. Ellsworth would be more likely to embrace the compromise efforts on immigration that Hostettler rigidly opposes. And he vows to bring to Washington the budgetary discipline he has had to observe in local public office. He deserves the opportunity.
The other endorsements weren't much of a surprise...

IN-1 - The Star endorses Pete Visclosky
Preserving jobs in industrialized Northwest Indiana and promoting education for a high-tech future are natural priorities for a 1st District member of Congress, and Rep. Pete Visclosky has attended to that business through his 22 years in the seat. He deserves a 12th term.
IN-3 - In a backhanded endorsement, rather than endorsing Souder, The Star said Hayhurst hasn't shown enough why they should't vote for Souder.
Souder's Democratic challenger, pulmonologist Tom Hayhurst, has experience on the local level as a Fort Wayne City Council member and as an activist for veterans' issues. He's been unable to show, however, why voters should deny Souder a seventh term.
IN-4 - No surprise... Endorsement for Steve Buyer.
Sanders, a Purdue University professor, is an intelligent, passionate advocate for his positions on the political left. But it's Buyer's work on veterans issues, along with his fiscal conservatism, that wins The Star's endorsement.
IN-5 - Another backhanded endorsement for Burton... This one says there are so few Democrats in the district they can't field a competitive candidate.
The congressman, a member of the International Relations Committee, has done little to distinguish himself in the past two years. But without a well-qualified opponent to challenge Burton, voters should once again return him to Washington.
IN-6 - Strong endorsement to Pence...
The incumbent is opposed by Democrat Barry Welsh, a Methodist minister who is running to Pence's right on immigration. Welsh has run a respectable grassroots campaign but isn't a match for Pence's depth of knowledge or experience. The Star strongly endorses Mike Pence for a fourth term.
IN-7 - Another "we'd like to recommend the other guy but..." endorsement for Carson.
Dickerson, a Marine veteran, is in many ways a stronger candidate than the incumbent. He offers a reasoned, moderate approach on major issues, including the war in Iraq. He has a strong background in business and could bring fresh energy to the 7th District seat. But he stumbled badly in responding to the revelation that he had been arrested on domestic violence charges. It's a mistake the challenger, a political newcomer, couldn't afford. With deep reservations, The Star recommends Carson for one more term.
IN-9 - Relatively strong endorsement for Sodrel.
Sodrel, after only two years in office, has shown solid growth in the position. He's earned a second term.

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