Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth is running for Senate, making this race for Indiana’s 8th U.S. House District an open battle. While Ellsworth won fairly handily the last two elections, the race has now become much more competitive. Because the congressional district is very Republican in nature, it will be very difficult for William Trent Van Haaften to take over for Ellsworth. This puts surgeon Larry Bucshon, the Republican candidate, in a very good position to win.
Candidates for Indiana’s 8th Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district includes all or parts of Clay, Daviess, Gountain, Gibson, Greene, Knox, Martin, Owen, Parke, Pike, Posey, Putnam, Sullivan, Vanderburgh, Vermillion, Vigo, Warren and Warrick counties and the cities of Evansville, Terre Haute, and Vincennes. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: William Trent Van Haaften
Political experience: Van Haaften has been a member of the Indiana state house since 2004.
Professional experience: Van Haaften was Posey County’s chief deputy prosecuting attorney and was later elected the prosecuting attorney for Posey County.
Key issues: Van Haaften wants to make the Farm Bill work for family farms and would fight to make that a reality. He is interested in reducing the standard deduction of the death tax by to $5,000,000 so that it is possible for children to inherit farms.
He feels unfair trade practices are a problem for Indiana jobs; in particular, he cites broken trade deals with Mexico and China. He would close tax loopholes that give companies a boost for shipping jobs overseas.
Endorsements: Van Haaften has been endorsed by the Indiana Credit Union League and Blue Dog coalition.
Chances of winning this seat: Van Haaften is looking to take over from Brad Ellison and is branding himself as a conservative Democrat, but has some challenges to face due to the fact Republicans are preferred over most Democrats by voters this year. They are close in current funds, according to OpenSecrets.org, Larry Bucshon has $206,593 and William Van Haaften has $360,478. That may not matter given the fact it is a very Republican district.
Candidate: Larry D. Bucshon
Professional experience: Bucshon was chief resident in surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin and is a physician and a practicing anesthesiologist. He serves as Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Medical Director of the open-heart recovery intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Hospital. He is president of Ohio Valley HeartCare, a cardiology and cardiovascular surgery practice.
Bucshon served in the United States Navy Reserve for nearly 10 years.
Key issues: He is against the Free Choice Act that would allow the elimination of private ballots and enable government arbitration in business and employee disputes.
Bucshon wants legislation to be read before votes are cast and opposes fast-tracked legislation. He is strongly conservative in opposing illegal-alien amnesty and public revenue being used to fund abortions. He backs the Second Amendment.
Endorsements: Bucshon has been endorsed by the National Right to Life, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and Campaign for Working Families.
Chances of winning this seat: Bucshon has a strong chance of winning this district; it’s R+8 according to the Cook Partisan Index. That automatically puts his competitor at a disadvantage. Perhaps in a normal election year, Van Haaften would be in a good position to take over. As it stands, Republicans are preparing to sweep many of the most competitive races, in particular those that naturally lean in their favor.
Key Differences between Larry D. Bucshon and William Trent Van Haaften
Jobs: Bucshon would lower taxes from 15 percent to 10 percent and 10 percent to 5 percent, oppose any new taxes and make unemployment benefits tax free to help stimulate the economy. He opposes TARP funding and government bailouts. Van Haaften says that with Indiana’s unemployment rate reaching 10 percent, he knows that small businesses need help. He is in favor of red tape being cut and increasing demand for Indiana products, like the service being done by the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center.
Health care: Bucshon didn’t support the health care reforms that arrived this spring, and he thinks other measures are necessary — namely tort reform, an expanded health care savings account and pooled competitive buying groups for health insurance. Van Haaften would provide tax credits to small businesses so they can afford health care for their employees and require insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions. He supports the reforms that closed the drug donut hole in prescription drugs. He supports Medicare and would not want beneficiaries to see cuts.
Energy: Bucshon is skeptical global warming data supports the urgency of cap and trade legislation, which he suggests would harm jobs in the region. Van Haaften wants energy independence to be considered a national security issue and believes that clean, cheap coal makes energy affordable.
Indiana‘s 8th U.S. Congressional District
Location: The Indiana 8th District is located in southwestern Indiana, along the Illinois and Kentucky borders. Based in Evansville, it includes the towns of Terra Haute and Vincennes.
2008 results: Democrat Brad Ellsworth beat Republican Greg Goode 64.7 percent to 35.3 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 92.5 percent of the district is white, 3.9 percent black, 1.4 percent Hispanic, 0.7 percent Asian, and 0.2 percent American Indian and Alaska Native.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the Indiana 8th District a rating of R+8, awarding a strong advantage to Republican candidates in this district.