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Meet The Candidates For Indiana's 9th Congressional District

(L-R) Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, Tonya Millis and Andy Ruff.

(L-R) Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, Tonya Millis and Andy Ruff. (Courtesy of the Hollingsworth and Millis campaigns; WFIU/WTIU News)

This November, incumbent Republican Rep. Trey Hollingsworth of Jeffersonville will face two challengers for the 9th District Congressional seat: Bloomington native Democrat Andy Ruff and Libertarian Tonya Millis of Bedford.

Indiana’s 9th District consists of Brown, Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Jackson, Johnson, Lawrence, Monroe, Orange, and Washington counties, with parts of Crawford, Morgan and Scott counties included as well.

WFIU/WTIU News reporter Mitch Legan sat down with each candidate to discuss their policies and plans if elected Nov. 3.

Incumbent Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R)

Hollingsworth took office in 2016, filling now-Sen. Todd Young's seat in a heated race against Democrat Shelli Yoder. He faced criticism from Democrats because he had lived in Indiana for only a year before running to represent the 9th District in Congress.

In his discussion with Legan, Hollingsworth pointed to low unemployment and wage growth in the Hoosier state before the pandemic as two of his proudest contributions in office.

"The question is, how fast can we get back to that?" Hollingsworth said. "And that's exactly why I'm running again, to make sure that the economic opportunity that we were able to achieve, that that will be something that we preserve going forward by getting back to that economy as quickly as possible."

Hollingsworth stressed the importance of representing the varied interests of 9th District residents, saying, "Right here in Bloomington, many Hoosiers feel very differently than they do five miles away in Ellettsville, right? It's really important to make sure that, remember, we have a very diverse district."

He also pushed back on challenger Andy Ruff's assertions that being relatively new to the state is a drawback, saying that, outside of Bloomington, 9th District residents are much more conservative. 

"I think if Mr. Ruff traveled outside of Bloomington's city limits nearly any time, he would recognize that the rest of the district feels very differently about socialized medicine than his proposals," Hollingsworth said. "The rest of the district feels very differently about the Green New Deal. The rest of the district feels very differently on the pro-life versus pro-choice question than he is espousing."

For our full interview with 9th District candidate Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, click here.

Andy Ruff (D)

Former five-term Bloomington City Councilmember Andy Ruff beat out four Democratic challengers in this year's primary. 

Ruff portrays himself as the "everyman" of the race.

"We need a Hoosier representing the Hoosiers, the ordinary folks of the 9th District," he said in a June interview.

Ruff told Legan that he is "done with the ugly divisiveness of the country," which spurred him to run for Congress. He said his campaign plans were somewhat derailed by the pandemic, leading him to turn to phone calls and social media over appearances with his guitar at county fairs.

Ruff put his musical talents and campaigning skills together in the production of a political music video titled "The Ballad of 'Tennessee Trey' (Hollingsworth)," which had more than 7,700 YouTube views at the time of publication.

Part of Ruff's platform is getting big money out of politics.

"So I've been trying to run a campaign without relying on any of those money sources and just relying on grassroots contributions from ordinary folks," he said. "And that's been taking a lot of work. Because, you know, if I can get 50 contributions of $25 from ordinary folks, to me, that is worth a lot more than [a] maximum multi-thousand-dollar contribution from a wealthy donor or super PAC acting in my behalf."

He also does support the Green New Deal and has advocated for Medicare for all.

Ruff touted his time on City Council and lived experience in Monroe County as reasons why he feels he is equipped to hold the 9th District seat. He said, despite Hollingsworth holding office, that he thinks the area "isn't as red as it seems."

For our full interview with 9th District candidate Andy Ruff, click here.

Tonya Millis (L)

A former Republican, Millis said she hopes to become the first woman to represent the 9th District of Indiana. But, she said, she's not running on gender.

Millis said she's running on a platform rooted in personal freedoms, saying, "I'm running against the 'Three R's': too many Rules, Regulations and Runaway Debt."

Millis emphasized the negative effects of the federal government's COVID-19 economic stimuli.

"People think, 'Oh, I got $1,200 dollars,' when they got the stimulus," she said. "That money was borrowed. And years ago, they used Social Security as a lien to get to borrow money. So people don't realize that the value of the U.S. dollar is going to start to fall and the Mexican peso is going to be worth more than the U.S. dollar if we don't do something."

Running as a third-party candidate with no prior political experience, Millis said her status as a political outsider is something voters can look to if they are fed up with current politics.

"I felt compelled to stand up and serve my community, help my constituents out [and] give the people a voice," she said. "It seems like right now we don't have a voice. District 9 does not have a real voice."

For our full interview with 9th District candidate Tonya Millis, click here.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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