Four seek Democrats’ support for Congress
The Ninth District Congressional race is expected to be one of the tightest House races in the nation.
First-term incumbent Mike Sodrel, R-New Albany, was listed by GOP leaders as one of their party’s 10 most at-risk House members, selecting him for the first round of their ROMP (Retain Our Majority Program) fund-raisers, including an appearance by President George W. Bush at Sodrel’s side.
Four Democrats will be on the ballot in the primary. Among them will be Baron Hill, whose three-term tenure in Congress ended two years ago after being defeated by 1,500 votes (less than one percent of ballots cast) by Sodrel.
Gretchen Clearwater, 54, an advisor for graduate biology students at Indiana University in Bloomington, said the president is ‘very much’ responsible for her decision to run for office.
‘This administration has given me an America I have never known. There is the ‘Leaves Every Child Behind Act,’ which I call it, and the Patriot Act which allows our government to spy on us,’ Clearwater said.
‘I just got extremely frustrated with everything that’s going on in the country, so I decided I need to step up and do something about it,’ she said.
But Clearwater is bipartisan in assigning blame on the issues she finds most troubling, saying neither Democrats nor Republicans have been doing well on Capitol Hill.
She cited the decision to go to war with Iraq as ‘an error that cost the lives of many people.
‘The fact that what happened on 9/11 had nothing to do with Iraq should’ve been quite evident to people. I think legislators should listen to all point of views. I think they were lied to just as I was, but I wasn’t tricked,’ she said.
That decision has caused the deaths of 34,000 people in Iraq and more than 2,300 U.S. servicemen and women. There are 16,000 U.S. troops coming home who have been wounded.
Clearwater said U.S. military efforts to help Iraq recover from war may be doing more harm than good.
‘I had an uncle who helped us move, and he broke whatever he moved,’ she said. Nevertheless, ‘we are obviously going to have to help them pay to rebuild their infrastructure.’
Calling hers a grass-roots campaign, Clearwater describes a corporate takeover of the United States that she says has had a negative impact on everything from the campaign process to the economics of the lower and middle classes.
While on the campaign trail, ‘In Harrison County in Corydon was the first time I heard the use of the word ‘depression,’ and that really hit me hard. Folks are suffering now from free-trade agreements. NAFTA, CAFTA are something that I will oppose forever and a day. We have to do something to reverse those,’ she said.
‘It’s only working for the guys at the top.’
Clearwater was born in Valparaiso and raised in the Ninth District. She is a divorced mother of three grown children.
Baron Hill, 52, is attempting to return to the House after being defeated by Mike Sodrel, two years ago by less than one percent of ballots cast.
Hill describes himself as a middle-of-the-road voice, bringing moderate and conservative views within the Democratic caucus to the leadership table, a fiscal conservative who frowns on abortion but says it should be a woman’s right to choose.
Born and raised in Seymour, Hill was a standout athlete at Seymour High School, setting records in basketball, football and track. He holds the state’s record in the 100-yard dash and is Seymour High School’s all-time leading basketball scorer and a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1982, Hill served there for eight years before narrowly losing in the U.S. Senate race in 1990. He walked the entire length of Indiana during that campaign.
Before he was first elected to Congress in 1998, Hill ran a small business in Seymour, was appointed by Evan Bayh to serve at the Indiana State Student Assistance Commission and worked as a financial analyst for Merrill Lynch.
While a member of Congress, Hill served on three committees: the House Agriculture Committee, the Armed Services Committee and the Joint Economic Committee. As part of his duties on the House Armed Services Committee, Hill sat on the Anti-Terrorism Subcommittee and the Military Readiness Subcommittee.
Arguably the most important vote of his Congressional tenure was cast in support of the war in Iraq.
In a December 2005 interview with The Corydon Democrat, Hill said he was initially opposed to going to war with Iraq, despite the advice of his Washington, D.C., staff.
That was until he and about 34 other moderate Democrats were summoned to the Pentagon where Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard G. Meyers, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and other heavyweights delivered an impressive, intimidating and persuasive presentation, Hill said.
That presentation, he said, swung his vote, but as time passed, he increasingly questioned the content and spirit in which it was presented. In March 2005, Hill told the Los Angeles Times newspaper that he now considers the briefing ‘a deliberate misrepresentation.’
He says it’s time to end the war in Iraq.
Hill and his wife of 33 years have three grown children.
John (Cosmo) Hockersmith, 35, of Vallonia calls himself ‘a common man for the common people,’ but he has an uncommon approach to politics.
‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,’ he says, citing a favorite Star Trek movie as the source of a quote in which he strongly believes.
Hockersmith said he chose to run because ‘our President is a warmongering despot who cares only about protecting the interests of big business.’
His platform, he said, focuses on fiscal responsibility and the environment.
‘There are all kinds of ways that the state of Indiana could be making money. We could be giving tax incentives to film companies and film producers to come to Indiana to make movies like New Mexico. We could implement a recycling program like Michigan’s that would benefit the environment. We could conduct some prison reform measures and have inmates help clean up our landfills. We need to get old laws off the books that don’t make good business sense. One in particular, the no alcohol on Sunday’s measure,’ he said.
If elected, Hockersmith said, ‘I will donate my entire Congressional salary to charity. I am also telling people that the first bill of legislation I will introduce will be to give Capitol Hill a 50 percent paycut till they start doing their jobs right. This will help to drive the career politicians out of Washington. It is time that we as a people take our government back from big business and return it to the people.’
Contact and biographical information could not be found for Lendall B. Terry.