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Blog Home Page --> House -- Indiana -- 03

Souder To Retire Over Reported Affair

Yet another big story to spice up a big primary day: Fox News is reporting that Indiana Rep. Mark Souder (R) will resign after an affair with a staffer was revealed.

Elected as a family values conservative as part of the Republican revolution in 1994, Souder survived a tough re-election challenge in 2008 and survived a contested primary two weeks ago.

Souder was absent from Washington most of last week, missing multiple votes and only voting on Thursday.

Souder's resignation would make him the second lawmaker to step down in less than two months. In March, former Rep. Eric Massa, D-N.Y., resigned amid allegations that he sexually harassed male staffers. Massa's case is now before the House Ethics Committee.

Indiana's 3rd Congressional District covers the northeast corner of the state, with Fort Wayne the largest city in its borders. John McCain carried the district with 56 percent of the vote in 2008, meaning it's slanted toward the Republicans. The current Democratic nominee for the seat is former Fort Wayne Councilman Tom Hayhurst, who lost to Souder in 2006 by a 54-46 margin.

When and if Souder resigns may determine whether a special election is called to fill the seat for the remainder of the year. New York Gov. David Paterson (D) has set a precedent of not calling an election until this fall, something Republicans opposed. The Indiana GOP holds its state convention June 19, where they may be able to choose a new nominee for the regularly-scheduled November election.

UPDATE: The Indiana Secretary of State has issued a statement outlining the procedure for filling Souder's seat by special election. Read more after the jump:

Continue reading "Souder To Retire Over Reported Affair" »

IN 03: Scaring Souder

"Our analysis last spring was that if we were talking about the 3rd CD in late October, there would be a national wave developing," Indiana political analyst Brian Howey wrote this week. Sure enough, three polls out of the Hoosier State show seven-term GOP Rep. Mark Souder in serious jeopardy of being swept out by a Democratic tsunami.

The Howey/Gauge Poll surveyed 300 likely voters between 10/23-24 for a margin of error of +/- 5.7% (Party ID: 39% Dem, 47% GOP, 14% independent and other). Souder, Democratic attorney Mike Montagano and Libertarian William Larsen were tested.

General Election Matchup
Montagano........44
Souder...........41
Larsen........... 5

Another independent poll, conducted by Research 2000 for WANE-TV, surveyed 600 likely voters 10/16-18 for a margin of error of +/- 4% (Party ID: 30% Dem, 33% GOP, 37% independent and other). Souder, Montagano and Larsen were tested.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind)
Souder.......45 / 7 / 82 / 43
Montagano....40 / 82 / 5 / 38
Larsen....... 4 / 1 / 4 / 6

And nothing shakes loose an internal poll than bad news in independent surveys. A Winston Group poll for Souder's campaign surveyed 400 registered voters 10/15-16 for a margin of error of +/- 4.9% (Party ID breakdown: 26% Dem, 39% GOP, 35% independents and others). Only Souder and Montagano were tested.

General Election Matchup
Souder..........50
Montagano.......41

The three surveys do not give Souder a lot to brag about, as even his internal poll -- from two weeks ago -- shows him hovering at the crucial 50% mark. The Howey/Gauge survey shows just 35% say they would want to see Souder re-elected, while 50% say they want to elect someone new.

Still, the incumbent Republican isn't finished yet. A plurality of voters -- 42% -- see him favorably, whole 33% see him unfavorably, and the National Republican Congressional Committee is up with a new $189,000 advertising campaign.

But as is the case in most districts this year, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is outspending Republicans, blasting Souder with a new $197,000 ad campaign. In total, the DCCC has spent almost double what the NRCC has spent in the Fort Wayne-based district, in the northeast part of the state.

The race could be as close as the presidential contest statewide. President Bush carried the district with 68% in 2004, eight points higher than his statewide performance, giving Souder hope that John McCain might drag him across the finish line.