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  7th term in Indiana's 8th?
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ContributorRob Brodner 
Last EditedRob Brodner  Apr 24, 2006 12:12pm
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News DateFriday, April 21, 2006 06:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionAs the pundits look for the congressional races likely to come down to the wire this year, there is one that many may miss. Indiana’s Eighth Congressional District voted 62% to 38% for President Bush over Senator Kerry in 2004. By all accounts, it is a conservative place with a conservative, six-term, Republican incumbent in a reliably red state. But a closer look reveals a serious opportunity for the Democrats and an overall fascinating race from the standpoint of party identity in this turbulent era.

The Indiana Eighth, like many districts in the Rust Belt, consists mostly of small, working class cities spread throughout a landscape of farmland and sprouting exurbs. In the western part of the state along the border with Illinois, the district includes Terre Haute, whence haled perennial Socialist presidential candidate and labor organizer Eugene Debs and basketball great Larry Bird. Very religious, socially conservative and favorable to unions and farmers, one might consider the area’s politics first and foremost populist.

This is a place where anti-Washington rhetoric plays well – its habit of ousting incumbents (six since 1958) has earned it the moniker, “the bloody Eighth.” The current incumbent, Baptist Deacon John Hostettler, has faced tough reelection battles since he knocked out incumbent Frank McCloskey in 1994. Politically, the district’s populism may make it erratic, responding more to issues and characters than parties.
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