Democratic incumbent Baron Hill and Republican challenger Todd Young are profiled today. The Libertarian candidate Greg Knott and write-in candidate Jerry Lucas will be profiled Tuesday.
Democratic incumbent Baron Hill and Republican challenger Todd Young are profiled today. The Libertarian candidate Greg Knott and write-in candidate Jerry Lucas will be profiled Tuesday.
The 9th Congressional District campaign has been a cat fight that promises to get louder and all-claws-bared in the final days before voters choose among the Democratic incumbent, a Republican newcomer, a Libertarian and a write-in.

Two of the candidates are profiled today, and two will be profiled Tuesday.

Nationally, the Republicans set out this year to parlay voters' tensions - over jobs, the economy, the national debt and the divisive issues that have marked the current Congress such as health care reform, energy and bailouts - into toppling Democratic incumbents.

There is a lot of national interest in the Indiana 9th District race, and both of the national parties' congressional campaign committees and independent groups and PACs are pouring millions of dollars into it.

Independent political analysts consider the outcome of the election too close to predict.

The political analysts are looking only at the campaigns of Democrat Baron Hill, who is seeking his third consecutive term and his sixth overall, and Republican political newcomer Todd Young.

If the race is as close as the analysts say, Libertarian Greg "No Bull" Knott and write-in candidate Jerry Lucas could pull enough votes to affect the outcome. Neither talks like he is in the race to be a spoiler, however; both say they have their own platforms. They also are looking for votes from people who want an alternative to the two major parties. Their stories will be published Tuesday.




Baron Hill

Baron Hill isn't dodging criticism of his votes for the health care bill, the economic stimulus bill, the cap-and-trade energy bill or the automaker bailout.

"I'm proud of that vote," he has said about each of them.

He is quick to point out that he did not vote for the bank bailout known as TARP.

He says that without the carmaker bailout, Hoosiers who work in the automotive industry would have lost jobs, and without stimulus projects the state's unemployment rate would have been double. The health care bill, which he has told constituents is not an instant fix and will take years to implement, already is having a positive impact on people with pre-existing conditions, he said. The cap-and-trade bill - which didn't make it out of the Senate - would have reduce carbon emissions and reduced the U.S. dependence on oil from other countries.

Hill said he supports a recent bill to give small businesses $12 billion in tax cuts, and President Barack Obama's proposal to spend $50 billion on infrastructure programs because it would put people back to work at a time that the private sector is not yet ready to generate jobs.

One vote that never got taken before Congress adjourned was extension of tax cuts. Hill said he would vote to extend them for everyone except people making over $250,000 a year.

Hill is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of fiscally conservative Democrats in the House.

He authored the House version of the PAYGO bill, which became law this year and says that Congress has to offset new or increased spending with cuts.

When PAYGO was approved by the House, Hill said, "PAYGO's enactment is a direct response to what I've been hearing from my Southern Indiana constituents - let's get serious about curbing Washington's spending and addressing our deficit."

He said recently that his authorship is evidence to the contrary for "anybody that wants to call me a free-spending Democratic liberal."

Though he is a Democrat, Hill said that when the House is in session he does not use the chamber to blast Republicans. "I'm not a partisan myself, never have been," Hill said. "You've never seen me go to the well in the House and give a speech attacking Republicans. I've always been willing to reach out.

"I'm fed up with the partisan politics that goes on in Washington, D.C. ... Not every single issue has to be a partisan issue," he said.

Not every action of a congressman involves national issues that spread acrimony from coast to coast.

"I am especially proud of turning our military base into a wildlife refuge," Hill said. Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge was established in June 2000 on about 50,000 acres of the former Jefferson Proving Ground in Jefferson, Jennings and Ripley counties. "Now people everywhere can enjoy it." Hill said he's hunted mushrooms at the refuge.

Other votes and positions he talks about include his vote with the congressional majority this year to give broader medical care for veterans, including covering military women's babies for the first time, and compensating people who take care of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among the endorsements Hill has received is the National Rifle Association, which he announced recently.

"There's a lot of hunting and fishing in southern Indiana," Hill said. "People go to gun shows. I own guns. I went to our leadership (in the House) and said no more gun laws. I think the NRA recognizes my support." He said he will remain an active voice saying "do not take away gun rights from the people of southern Indiana."

Hill acknowledged that "This political climate is not the best for incumbents."

TV ads for Hill refer to Young as a lawyer from Carmel, but Young no longer lives in his hometown. Advertising supporting Hill calls Young an outsider who doesn't belong and who doesn't share the values of Southern Indiana. A Hill ad shows a video of Young calling southern Indiana "the middle of nowhere." Another Hill ad says the Republican wants to put a new 23 percent sales tax on Hoosiers, and another ad, aimed at retirees, tells voters that Young wants to end Social Security.

Politifact.com, an independent tester of truth in political advertising, said the ad about the national sales tax, the FairTax, was only half-true because it failed to also say that federal taxes like the income tax and payroll taxes would be eliminated and that there would be a rebate to offset the tax on essential products like food and clothes.

More recently, Hill started running an ad that says the 23 percent sales tax would be "double taxation." Politifact.com said the ad is aimed at senior citizens, and for them, the ad's claim is true because they paid taxes on their incomes when they earned it and set aside money in savings for retirement. If FairTax was in place, whenever they made purchases they would have to pay tax again on that money that was already taxed, Politifact.com said.

The FairTax is not a new issue; Hill's Republican opponent Mike Sodrel promoted it during the 2008 campaign. The idea had been considered by a nonpartisan panel appointed by President George W. Bush. The panel rejected it in 2005 after determining that the tax would have to be at least 34 percent to work and that it would cause an increase in the tax burden for people earning between $15,000 and $200,000.




Todd Young

Todd Young began campaigning almost two years ago.

He rose quickly in the National Republican Congressional Committee's three-step advancement program for first-time candidates by meeting fundraising goals and other criteria to reach the highest designation, "Top Gun." That made him eligible for money, advice and help from the committee.

Young says the United States needs to return to a Constitutionally-limited federal government.

"We need leaders who do not see the expansion of government as a solution to almost every problem," Young wrote on his website. "We need to rethink the endless and diffuse morass of programs. ... The great challenges the United States now faces require, more than ever, that its government respect the boundaries set by the Constitution, so that it may focus more vigorously on its core functions."

Young pledged that if elected, "before voting on any proposed act, I will ask whether the exercise of power is actually authorized by the Constitution."

Hill's campaign has been running ads aimed at senior citizens suggesting that Young would take away their Social Security. Not true, Young said in statements and posted on his website.

"I will protect Social Security and Medicare for those in the programs or about to enter them," Young said. "And I will preserve them for future generations. I view Social Security and Medicare as sacred compacts. These commitments we have made to all Americans must be honored."

He is against gun control, and received the highest rating the National Rifle Association gives to a candidate who has never been in office.

Young is opposed to the economic stimulus bill, and told an interviewer that if he had been in Congress in the 1930s, he probably would have voted against establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps. The reason, he said, is that the private sector, not the government, should be the job-generator. Businesses should be freed from burdensome regulations that keep them from adding jobs, he says.

Obama's new proposal for a $50 billion infrastructure program won't result in job growth if it results in increased costs for energy, has "burdensome new federal regulations," contains new mandates and includes new taxes, Young said.

But he does support investment in the infrastructures and said it should be used to provide broadband in rural areas; a new electric power grid; modernized air traffic control; and transportation projects such as the Ohio River bridges to Louisville.

The new bill to give $12 billion in tax cuts to small businesses, Young said, does too little to address the problems they face.

"For far too long, members of Congress of both political parties have spent our hard-earned money irresponsibly, set us on a path toward future tax increases to pay our foreign bankers, and put at risk our future standard of living and competitiveness in global markets,." Young wrote.

Young says elsewhere on his website that bucking the party is sometimes necessary.

"If America is to enjoy truly sustainable economic growth and job creation, we must send leaders to Washington who will speak truth to power, stand up against those who embrace the excesses of the past and, when necessary, oppose leaders in their own party who lose their way," Young wrote.

Young ties job growth to health care, the cap-and-trade legislation, and the Tax Code.

"Return health care decisions to private industry and bring health care costs down," Young told a tea party audience in Madison this month.

Costs would drop and there would be more access to affordable health insurance, he says, if people could buy their health insurance in other states; if there was tort reform to limit malpractice lawsuits, which he said cost doctors and hospitals more for malpractice insurance; and if employee health care benefits were equalized so that the size of the employer did not matter.

Young rejects placing caps on carbon dioxide emissions such as from coal-burning power plants.

"The only way to reduce carbon dioxide is to dramatically reduce the amount of domestic coal used to generate electricity, which could force the premature closure of coal-fired steam-generating plants, send jobs overseas and greatly increase Hoosiers' energy costs," Young wrote.

The Tax Code, he said, kills jobs. Young doesn't name the FairTax specifically, but says that one of the options for replacing the current Tax Code could be a consumption-based tax. A flatter tax also is an option, he said.

"Our tax system should be oriented toward attracting investment and growing jobs," Young said.

Young's ads have included one asking whether Hill is running to represent Indiana or China, and ads tying Hill to President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Young was applauded when he mentioned removing Pelosi during a speech this month at a Madison tea party rally.