According to a storyin the Indianapolis Star, U.S. Representative Julia Carson has decided not to run again in 2008. She announced on Sunday she has terminal lung cancer. Yesterday, the Blogmeister expressed some anger and dismay at those who are lining up for the seat. However, since Rep. Carson has officially decided not to run again, it seems more appropriate to discuss the implications of her decision. Thankfully, those who would like the seat are keeping tight lipped about their plans. However, the Seventh District is important and deserves some discussion.
From the Indianapolis Star:
“Democrats won control of both the House and Senate in the 2006 elections. There are now 233 Democrats and 200 Republicans in the House, with two vacancies left by the deaths of Republicans Paul Gillmor of Ohio and Jo Ann Davis of Virginia.
Open seats are generally hotly contested by both parties, but it remains to be seen how much effort Republicans would put into trying to claim Carson’s district.
Far more Republicans than Democrats are retiring from the U.S. House — 17 Republicans, with seven others possible, compared with only four Democrats and two Democratic maybes, including Carson.
David Wasserman, who analyzes House races for the Cook Political Report, said it’s hard to know how this race will shape up until it is certain that Carson will be able to finish her term.
‘To get a good political perspective, you’d be better off talking to a doctor than a political analyst,’ he said.
In general, he said, few people vote in a special election, which would be called by Gov. Mitch Daniels if Carson retires before the end of her term.
A low-turnout election would give an opportunity to Republicans in this strongly Democratic district, Wasserman said. He noted that a Republican came close to defeating a Democrat in a recent special election for a Massachusetts seat the Democrat should have won easily.
‘In a low-turnout election, Republicans have more of an opportunity to court their base,’ Wasserman said.
However, he’s not expecting Carson to resign her seat.
‘My sense is Julia Carson will not retire from Congress until she’s incapacitated,’ he said. ‘She has made it clear she has intended to stay in the past, even with ill health.’
Brian Vargus, a political science professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said the district is heavily Democratic. In 2000, Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore carried it; so did John Kerry in 2004. And both, Vargus said, got even higher vote totals than Carson.
Vargus said the race could be intense, with many people interested in running — but most of the action will take place out of the public view.
He expects each party to try to coalesce around a candidate, avoiding a bruising public fight or primary election contest.
‘This is not going to be done out in the open,’ Vargus said. ‘Even if there’s a special election, most of the jockeying for position will be done behind closed doors.’
Hmmmm, sounds like this race will be interesting.