In 2008, Mike Sodrel received only 38 percent of the vote in the 9th District, which voted in favor of Republican candidacies of every other statewide office. John McCain, who lost the state, earned an almost equal amount of votes as Baron Hill, the man who defeated Sodrel for the third time in four tries.
Paoli Attorney Todd Young – one of Sodrel’s challengers this time — says the trucking magnate’s dismal showing in his fourth try at the seat shows voters in southern Indiana want a new choice.
“I certainly think we could benefit from the appetite for a fresh face. We are positioned to say, ‘Look, here is a departure from the past. Time to start over,’” Young said.
In the past year, Young has set fundraising records for a GOP candidate in the district, hauling in more than 300-thousand dollars. He’s also won endorsements from many of the state’s prominent Republicans, including former Vice President Dan Quayle.
“Congressman Sodrel has been largely silent for the entire time. Suring the most consequential policy debates in generations. The distinction in some regards is that we have fully articulated our positions on these issues. Mike Sodrel has not yet,” Young said.
Columbus real estate investor Travis Hankins entered the race almost as soon as the last election was over. He characterizes himself as a political outsider who wants to appeal to the district’s conservative sensibilities.
“Mike Sodrel jumping in the race has no affect on my campaign at all. I’m running for Congress to lead the conservative movement, not just to win votes,” he said.
Hankins admits Sodrel’s name recognition and campaign chest overmatch his own. But he says Sodrel is a tired brand in the district.
“Now as you know, Mike Sodrel has represented the Ninth District in the past. Therefore voters had the opportunity to view his voting record and determine if they want that kind of representation again. Or if they’d rather have some even more committed to the conservative cause,” he said.
Multiple calls to Sodrel’s campaign office seeking comment were not returned. Republican primary voters head to the polls on May 4th.