Five Republicans vying for their party’s nomination for the 9th U.S. Congressional district cite their experience as the reason they should be elected.
This spring, voters will select one of the candidates to earn the Republican Party’s nomination, and that person will move onto the general election in the fall. Voters also will be selecting a Democrat this spring. One candidate from each party will face each other in the fall election.
Republican voters will be choosing between the Indiana attorney general, two state senators, a former manufacturing worker and a business owner. All five are seeking the nomination for the 9th Congressional District seat, for which U.S. Rep. Todd Young, a Republican, is not seeking re-election.
The 9th District includes a large swath of southern Indiana, from Johnson County to the Ohio River.
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The decisions made by members of Congress have a significant impact on Johnson County, from taxes on small businesses to the overreach of the federal government into homes, schools and communities, candidates said.
In the Congressional race, the candidates each touted their own experiences as why they are the best pick for the job.
State Sen. Erin Houchin, who represents Washington County, has lived and worked in southern Indiana her entire life and said her conservative values prompted her to run for state office first, and now federal office.
And State Sen. Brent Waltz, who represents part of Marion and Johnson counties, said his experience in both state and local government, along with in business, make him well qualified to serve in Congress.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller touted his experience suing the federal government in his current role, along with working with former Vice President Dan Quayle, leading the World Trade Center of Indiana and as a trained mediator.
Two other candidates said they are the best choice because of their experience outside of government.
Robert “Bob” Hall has helped manufacturing companies improve their efficiencies, and also served on volunteer boards to find ways to eliminate waste. He has served on the township advisory board, but has not otherwise previously held a government office, but has experience with campaigns and in the Republican Party, he said.
Trey Hollingsworth cited his experience creating jobs in the private sector after starting HCP, which renovates industrial business sites. He knows what it is like to operate a business and face federal regulations, and said government needs to get back to its business sense in order to allow the private sector to create new jobs, he said.
All five candidates also cited the need to add jobs and to limit or cut government spending.
Hollingsworth said he wanted to see strong growth in the private sector with new products and technology that would lead to more careers, and not just jobs. And that means government also needs to not overspend and not overreach, he said.
Hall cited a recent trend of moving jobs to other countries, such as Mexico or China, and said that has been due to federal government policies, such as the income tax, healthcare reform and environmental regulations. He said he would do all he could to change those, while also working toward having a balanced budget.
Waltz cited similar concerns, including the recent decision by Carrier to move jobs out of the U.S. The same issue happened with Alpine in Greenwood years ago, he said. Lawmakers need to look closely at the corporations that receive government benefits and develop trade policies that look out for the American worker, Waltz said.
Job creators should be rewarded under the federal tax code, and the priority of government should be to support small businesses, Houchin said. That includes making sure government has a balanced budget, and that government isn’t reaching too far into people’s homes, doctors’ offices, schools, backyards and businesses, she said.
The 9th district has some of the best economic opportunities, including in logistics in Johnson County, but the challenge is in making the best of those, Zoeller said. He wants the federal government to focus on its proper roles, including health and safety, such as maintaining proper infrastructure, he said.
All five candidates said they would work hard to be sure to stay in touch with their constituents in Indiana, if they were elected to Congress, so they continue to know the key issues here.
Name: Trey Hollingsworth
Family: Wife, Kelly
Education: Bachelor’s from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; master’s in business from Georgetown University
Work: Founded HCP, which renovates industrial business sites
Political experience: none
Name: Erin Houchin
Family: Husband, Dustin; three children, ages 7, 10 and 12
Education: Bachelor’s in psychology from Indiana University; masters in political management from George Washington University
Work: Stay-at-home mom, state senator; previously worked as an investigator and case manager for the Indiana Department of Child Services
Past political experience: State senator since 2014, previously worked on other campaigns and worked for U.S. Sen. Dan Coats
Name: Robert “Bob” Hall
Family: Wife, Mary Jane; two adult sons
Education: Bachelor’s of science in industrial engineering from Purdue University; master’s of business administration from University of Chicago
Work: Retired from career in manufacturing, works as consultant
Past political experience: Township advisory board; previously worked on other campaigns
Name: Brent Waltz
Education: Bachelor’s in history from Wabash College
Work: State senator and president of the Baron Group, an investment banking company
Past political experience: Indiana State Senate for 12 years; previously served on Johnson County Council
Name: Greg Zoeller
Residence: New Albany
Family: Wife, Kerrie; three adult children
Education: Bachelor’s in computer science from Purdue University; graduate of Indiana University law school
Work: Indiana attorney general, previous experience with world trade
Past political experience: Two terms as attorney general
U.S. Congressional District 9
Represents: A large section of southern Indiana, from Johnson County to the Ohio River
Duties: Approve the federal budget and propose and approve federal laws
Pay: Base salary $174,000
Term: 2 years