You might see U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski and Brendan Mullen facing off again for the 2nd District U.S. House seat in 2014, a pair of political analysts think.
Walorski, a Republican from the Jimtown area, narrowly beat Mullen, a Democrat from Granger, in balloting for the U.S. House spot last November. She was sworn in to the post on Jan. 3.
Even so, in this year’s installment of the annual Howey Politics Indiana Power 50 list of top power brokers in the state, Brian Howey and Mark Schoeff Jr. speculate heavily about a Walorski-Mullen rematch. Walorski sits in the 45th spot on the list and in the text accompanying her listing, they waste no time delving into the possibility.
Walorski “faces an almost certain rematch” with Mullen, the HPI analysts say in their Jan. 11 report, noting that the Democrat “came within a whisker of beating” the Republican.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Howey, based in Indianapolis, noted prior instances of U.S. House losers in northern Indiana turning around, running again and winning. Walorski herself lost to Democrat incumbent Joe Donnelly in 2010 in the 2nd District race before winning last November. Donnelly, likewise, faced defeat in 2004 only to turn around and win the 2nd District spot in 2006.
The Walorski-Mullen race “wasn’t supposed to be very close,” said Howey, particularly in light of new 2nd District boundaries drawn after the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau count that most believed favored the GOP. “I just think that that’s the scenario for a rematch,” added Howey.
Indeed, he called the 2nd District contest “probably the biggest surprise” among federal elections last year in Indiana.
In her favor, HPI noted that Walorski, as part of her U.S. House responsibilities, has been assigned to the House Armed Services Committee and the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Mullen, a U.S. Army veteran and West Point grad, campaigned heavily last year on his military background, and her assignments would give Walorski ammo to counter the Democrat on that score.
Moreover, candidates from the party of presidents in their second term typically fare poorly in non-presidential election years. By that reckoning, Democrats, President Obama’s party, would suffer in 2014, the next time the 2nd District spot comes up for election, while Republicans, and Walorski, would have the upper hand.
Walorski received 134,033 votes last November, 49 percent of the total, to 130,113 for Mullen, 47.6 percent. Libertarian Joe Ruiz garnered 9,326 votes.
In 2010, Donnelly, now serving in the U.S. Senate, garnered 91,341 votes, 48.2 percent of the total, to 88,803, 46.8 percent, for Walorski.
Walorski, a former Indiana state representative, is a social and fiscal conservative while Mullen, who runs his own consulting firm, is a moderate Democrat.