Discussing the 9th District of Indiana, Rep. Mike Sodrel (R.-Ind.) mused, “If elections are about contrasts, there’s lots of it here. My opponent is as far to the left as I am to the right—and, after four years, it’s not that mysterious. Everyone knows where we stand by now.”
Freshman Sodrel was referring to the fact that the upcoming election between him and former Democratic Rep. (1996-2004) Baron Hill is their third clash at the polls. In ’02, trucking company owner and first-time candidate Sodrel challenged Hill and lost by a respectable 51%-to-46% margin. Undaunted, Sodrel bounced back two years later and, in the only race in which a Democratic House member who was not a victim of reapportionment went down, Sodrel edged Hill out by 1,425 votes. So the ’06 race is “Sodrel vs. Hill, III.”
On where they differ, the good-natured Sodrel quips: “Just name an issue and make sure you have a long list. The President’s tax cuts, ending the marriage penalty, eliminating the death tax, the marriage amendment, the flag-protection amendment—we’ve been on opposite sides of all the issues and have the votes on most of them to prove it.”
In campaigning against arch-nemesis Hill, Mike Sodrel frequently gains friends and supporters with his matter-of-fact way of answering questions and engaging voters. He freely admits, for example, that he attended but never finished Indiana University because “I just got too anxious.” He joined and soon rose to the top of a family-owned trucking company that has been a fixture in the Hoosier State for 140 years. Asked whether he disagrees with fellow Republican George W. Bush, Sodrel says: “Sure. But then again, I’ve been married 38 years and Marquita and I don’t agree on everything.” Specifically, Sodrel disagreed with the President on the Dubai Ports deal (“and I told him that,” he says) and now on immigration, with the Hoosier conservative firmly opposing a guest-worker program.
Almost from the day he took office, Mike Sodrel has been a target of Moveon.org, the AFL-CIO, and the usual suspects on the left. Conservatives must rally to his side, however, so that this third race will be a charm for Sodrel.