Souder’s Tour Guide Days Are Over

When soon-to-be-resigned U.S. Rep. Mark Souder says, "I am so ashamed" when talking about the affair that is driving him from office, I believe him. I can’t say that is often the case when politicians, athletes, entertainers or the like are admitting their wrongdoings.

You won’t find any flippant comments or double entendres here. Just a quick anecdote about Souder that makes yesterday’s development all the more incredulous for me.

I attended the Indiana Chamber’s annual D.C. Fly-in 2009 for the first time in quite a few years. Following the traditional opening night congressional roundtable (as many Indiana reps and senators as you will ever see in one place), I talked to a few of our business participants and caught up on several phone messages. When ready to make the trip back to the hotel, I noticed that most of my Chamber colleagues were gone.

Slightly more than a handful of attendees did remain and two were engaged in a conversation with Souder. When the longtime represenative (he defeated 2008 gubernatorial candidate Jill Long Thompson in 1994 to gain the congressional seat) offered a tour of the U.S. Capitol, I was quick to tag along.

I don’t think any in the group were Souder’s constituents. After a long day filled with a variety of votes, meetings and the Chamber event, he certainly didn’t have to go that extra step. And he didn’t just point out a couple of key locations and send us on our way. The lesson in Washington and American history (Souder was passionate in detailing the statues, artwork, lesser-known passageways and the like) lasted close to two hours. Without exaggeration, it was akin to an artist or playwright explaining the deeper meaning behind his or her work.

Did that make Souder a saint? Obviously not. Did it mean he was a little different than many of his colleagues who serve in Washington for so many years? I thought so then, and maintain that opinion at least somewhat today. Shame on Souder for his mistakes, but give him at least a little credit for admitting his shortcomings, accepting the blame and giving up his position.

Now, an already interesting election season has another bit of intrigue. The secretary of state’s office outlines the procedures for the upcoming special election and November vote.

Harper: Northeast Indiana Races Favor Banks, Souder

Mitch Harper is author of the popular blog, Fort Wayne Observed. He is also a Fort Wayne City Councilman.

The news may be that multiple counties are reporting that absentee and early voting levels are only at or below the typical levels for a mid-term election. This tends to suggest that a surge of motivated voters dissatisfied with government in general and the federal government, in particular, is not occurring in the primary cycle.

That surge may yet appear this fall. But these lower primary numbers mean that the typical Republican primary voter this year looks a lot like, well, the traditional Republican primary voter.  And that probably is a favorable sign for former Senator Dan Coats and incumbent 3rd District Congressman Mark Souder.

Senate: This is home ground for former Senator Dan Coats and State Senator Marlin Stutzman. Dan Coats is less strong here on his old home turf than many would have expected. Marlin Stutzman is well regarded here and has his own base.  Marlin also benefits by being the alternative choice of voters who might otherwise be in play for Mr. Coats or Mr. Hostettler. The impression that he is gaining momentum will have him taking votes from both Coats and Hostettler here during the next week. Will it be enough to offset the older, traditional Republican voter who favorably appreciates Dan Coats’ prior service? Maybe in northeastern Indiana but Marlin needs an extraordinary vote here to give him a chance statewide. 

However, by the conduct of his campaign, Marlin Stutzman comes out a winner regardless of Tuesday’s outcome.  

Senate District 17: The race to fill the seat of retiring State Senator "Doc" Dillon is likely to be an easy win for Whitley County Councilman Jim Banks. Mr. Banks is a meticulous campaign organizer. He is regarded as being favored easily in all of the District 17 counties with the exception of Huntington, home of County Commissioner Tom Wall. It is not that Mr. Banks won’t win that county, too, it’s just that Huntington politics is always interesting. 

US Representative, Third District: US Representative Mark Souder should win renomination. The question probably is whether he wins with over 50% of the vote over three challengers. Auto dealer Bob Thomas has spent heavily and the effect has been to marginalize Phil Troyer as the alternative choice.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Out of respect for our guest bloggers, we will not be allowing anonymous comments on their blogs this week. Additionally, the Indiana Chamber does not necessarily share the opinions of our guest bloggers.

Bailout Supporters and Detractors

No matter what side of yesterday’s great bailout debate you were on, you’d probably like to know how Indiana’s Congressmen voted, so here goes:

Voted Against:

Dan Burton (R)
Mike Pence (R)
Steve Buyer (R)
Pete Visclosky (D)
Andre Carson (D)
Baron Hill (D)

Voted For:

Joe Donnelly (D)
Brad Ellsworth (D)
Mark Souder (R)

(Hat tip to Hoosier Access.)

Ultimately, the $700 billion bailout was defeated 228-205. Indiana Congressman Mike Pence’s quote in a Bloomberg article was also highlighted in today’s Drudge Report:

"The American People rejected this bill and now Congress did likewise," Pence said.

Making the (Indiana) Call on Congress

Our panel of media/blogging experts previewed election topics far and wide in the current issue of BizVoice. The roundtable discussion included a Congressional look, which didn’t make the cut for the print edition.

While three seats went from Republicans to Democrats in 2006, most pundits see fewer opportunities for change this time around. A few of the insghts:

  • The fourth straight matchup between Baron Hill and Mike Sodrel in the 9th District will again be the one to watch. Matt Tully of the Indianapolis Star says the past negative races kept both sides quieter early in the process, but expect a strong final push. Joshua Gillespie of Hoosier Access adds that a wildcard is some high-ranking Democrats upset with Hill’s endorsement of Barack Obama during the primary.
  • Republican challengers will likely embrace the energy issue. WXNT Radio’s Abdul Hakim-Shabazz wouldn’t be surprised at a compromise from the Democrats to take that chip away from the GOP, with the knowledge that an agreement today won’t yield substantial impacts for a number of years.
  • In the Senate as a whole, Jeff Pruitt of Fort Wayne Politics puts the over/under at five on seats switching to the Democrat side.
  • Pruitt notes it’s a longshot bid, but he says Demcrat challenger Mike Montagano is running well early against incumbent Mark Souder, seeking his eighth term.

BizVoice has much, much more on Election ’08.