Today, May 5, we're profiling the four candidates for Indiana's Second District U.S. House seat, Republicans Jackie Walorski and Greg Andrews and Democrats Brendan Mullen and Dan Morrison.
The two winners in Tuesday's primary — Walorski and Mullen have the clear edge gauging by organization, funding and party support — advance to next November's general election.
Scroll to the end of the story for more info on the geography of the Second District.
ELKHART — Brendan Mullen cites his business background in seeking the Second District U.S. House seat.
He's created jobs as owner of a consulting firm that works with military clients and knows what it means to have to keep within a budget, all the better in dealing with the U.S. deficit. “I've done it. I understand it. I have had to survive within my means as a small-business owner,” he says.
Small business, “Main Street,” is the engine of the U.S. economy, the Democrat continues. “They drive not only the economy, but they develop how we, as a functioning country, move forward,” he says in an interview with The Elkhart Truth.
He also casts himself as a moderate who would help repair “the broken clown show” in Washington, D.C., and serve as an alternative to fringe left and fringe right “tea party” voices. This is his first bid for public office.
“We're selling common sense, we're selling steadiness,” he says, without hollering, without “fingers in the face.”
He digs at big business, singling out tax breaks to “big oil” and saying profits on “Wall Street” come on the backs of those from “Main Street.” Later, he returns to the theme when discussing gas prices, lamenting that large oil companies are profiting, yet get hefty tax breaks and send jobs overseas.
“We at Main Street, we at the pump are the ones that are shouldering that,” he says.
He offers a mixed review of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's health care initiative approved in 2010, but falls short of advocating a full repeal, the stance of many Republicans.
“There's a ton of bad in the legislation but there's a ton of good,” he says. More time is needed to see how it will fully shake out, though maybe certain elements could be pulled.
On the plus side, the new law has increased the ranks of the insured by 5.2 million and includes allowances for continuation of coverage for those with catastrophic illnesses, among other things.
On the down side, provisions requiring that companies of a certain size provide health care or face fines creates a measure of uncertainty for business operators. Business operators “don't know how that's going to take shape for them,” he says.
On Afghanistan, he proposes a “swift, calculated withdrawal” of U.S. troops.
Mullen, 34, graduated from West Point in 2001 and he served with the U.S. Army in Iraq, among other places. After the military, he settled in Washington, D.C., where he had also served in the Army, and has since moved back to South Bend, his hometown. He's married, with one daughter and another child on the way.
He offers a few seeming digs at Jackie Walorski, the leading GOP candidate for the District 2 spot, some veiled, some not so veiled. Walorski has a strong conservative voice and has generated support in the tea party movement.
“Adding another divisive voice to the halls of Congress would not be a recipe for success,” Mullen says.
Indiana's Second District
The Second District, located in north central Indiana, has been redrawn per the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau population count and the new boundaries take effect next year. Elkhart County, which has been divvied between the Second and Third districts, will now be entirely within the Second District.
The revamped district will also include St. Joseph, Starke, Marshall, Pulaski, Fulton, Miami and Wabash counties and parts of LaPorte and Kosciusko counties.
Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, currently represents the district, but he's running for the U.S. Senate this cycle.