In Red Indiana, GOP Incumbent's Seat in Danger

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Sheriff Brad Ellsworth talks to voters at the Main Street Café in Owensville, Ind.

Sheriff Brad Ellsworth talks to voters at the Main Street Café in Owensville, Ind. Ellwsworth is seeking to unseat Republican incumbent Rep. John Hostettler. Reena Advani, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Reena Advani, NPR

Indiana Rep. John Hostettler was first elected to the House with the GOP class of 1994; since then, he's been among its most orthodox conservatives. But Hostettler has never won with more than 53.4 percent of the vote, and this year, he appears more vulnerable than ever.

Indiana is one of the reddest states on the political map; it last voted for a Democratic president in 1964. Seven of Indiana's nine house members are Republican. But this election year, at least three of them appear to be in some kind of trouble — including Hostettler.

Hoping to unseat Hostettler is Brad Ellsworth, the sheriff of Vanderburgh County, where Evansville is located. Ellsworth hopes to tap into growing discontent among the farmers of southwest Indiana about the Iraq war, health care, and especially the price of fuel — each time they take big farm equipment over their fields.

Ellsworth is running slightly ahead in the polls and way ahead in fundraising. Hostettler doesn't raise much; he depends on church organizations to get out his vote.

NPR's Linda Wertheimer reports on what is on the agenda of area voters as they begin to look toward November.



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