Indiana's 9th District Race: Republican Todd Young Looking to Upend Democrat Barron Hill

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Indiana's 9th District
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Indiana's 9th District

The Tea Party has already dubbed Barron Hill's Democratic seat as a high-priority target, as has the GOP; the district has traded hands a few times between Hill and former Rep. Mike Sodrel. But this time, Sodrel lost in the primary to newcomer Todd Young, who was named a "Young Gun" by the National Republican Congressional Committee. He's looking to defeat the veteran representative by rallying conservatives in the district against the Democratic Congress and, by extension, his opponent.

Candidates for Indiana's 9th Congressional District (two-year term)

(This district includes Bartholomew, Brown, Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Dubois, Floyd, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Madison, Jennings, Monroe, Ohio, Orange, Perry, Ripley, Scott, Spencer, Switzerland and Washington counties along with the cities of New Albany and Bloomington. (See a boundary map here.)

Candidate: Barron Hill

Party: Democrat

Political experience: According to his website, Hill has held this seat since 2007, wresting it back from Sodrel, who held it for one term. He was also the representative for this district from 1999 to 2005. He served in the Indiana Legislature from 1982 to 1990.

Professional experience: Barron Hill is well known for having been inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000. He ran insurance and real estate services and has worked as a financial analyst for Merrill Lynch.

Key issues: Hill believes education requires further investment by increasing Pell Grants and making education more affordable. He'd like to clamp down on illegal immigration and is not supportive of an amnesty plan.

Though he discusses the economy and health care reform a great deal, another important issue for him is veteran's affairs. He noted that Congress had increased the Veteran's Affairs funding, helping to reduce the benefits claim backlog and increasing funding for both facility maintenance and travel reimbursement. VA medical facilities are also now treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury through more focused funding and policy.

Endorsements: No endorsements are listed on Hill's website.

Chances of maintaining his seat: This seat is one he's lost before, and he's certainly under pressure this election, but according to OpenSecrets.org, Hill has more money. In early September, he had more than $1.1 million on hand while Young only had $259,638. But though he didn't vote for TARP, he did vote for the unpopular stimulus and health care bills, which he now has to justify to his district.

Candidate: Todd Young

Party: Republican

Political experience: Young worked at the Heritage Foundation and was an aide to Sen. Richard Lugar.

Professional experience: Young is a former Marine, discharged in 2000 after honorable service as a captain. He is a former adjunct professor of public affairs at Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs and worked at Crowe Chizek and Company as a management consultant.

Key issues: According to his website, Young is pro-life, pro-gun rights and anti-abortion. He believes Congress has strayed too far from the U.S. Constitution. He says citizens should have the right to review legislation, that bills should shrink in size and that earmarks are too easily inserted into bills at the last moment.

Endorsements: The Club for Growth and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney have endorsed Young.

Chances of unseating Barron Hill: By being named a Young Gun by the National Republican Congressional Committee, Young has the focus of the national campaign, and Hill is considered vulnerable. So far, the race is a toss-up.

Key Differences between Todd Young and Barron Hill

Job creation: Hill authored the PAYGO budgeting rules and wants to see a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. Young is opposed to the cap on carbon dioxide which he argues would send Hoosier jobs overseas and feels the tax code has too many job-killing provisions. While opposed to earmarks, he'd like to see infrastructural and transportation investment expanded, in particular in rural districts such as southeast Indiana.

Health care: Young would see two immediate steps taken to improve upon delivery of health care insurance, tort reform and permitting health insurance to be purchased across state lines. He'd also like to see health care benefit tax treatment made equal no matter what the employer size. Hill is proud to have voted for health care reform and feels people haven't heard enough about its good qualities, that it bans insurers from dropping sick people, eliminates the possibility of being denied access for pre-existing conditions and that it stops life-time limits on coverage among other benefits.

Indiana's 9th U.S. Congressional District

Location: The Indiana 9th District makes up much of southeastern Indiana along the Kentucky border and Ohio River. Its eastern boundary barely touches Ohio. It includes New Albany and Bloomington.

2008 results: Barron Hill beat Mike Sodrel 58 percent to 38 percent.

Demographics: According to The U.S. Census, 92.5 percent of the district is white, 2.5 percent black, 2.1 percent Hispanic, and 1.4 percent Asian.

The Cook Partisan Index gives the Indiana 9th District a rating of R+6, making this a Republican-friendly district.

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