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With two open seats and several freshmen on the ballot, Indiana will be prime political territory in 2012. Two incumbents are seeking statewide office, but don't expect that to shift much control as Democrats attempt to win back the House. Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly's Senate bid opens up his 2nd district seat, but given the changes to the district's boundaries, Republicans are likely to add a member to their delegation. Rep. Mike Pence's (R) gubernatorial bid translates to a competitive GOP primary and little else in his heavily Republican district. The four freshman Republicans swept into power in the 2010 wave appear largely safe as they seek second terms.
Incumbent: Peter Visclosky (D)
14th term (59 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic
Visclosky's northwestern Indiana district only got more secure for him following redistricting, and local Democrats now say this is their safest seat in the state — even more so than the Indianapolis-based 7th district.
Under the new map, the 1st district shrunk geographically and shifted into the northwestern corner of the state — essentially making its population based in the Chicago suburbs and exurbs. However, what makes the district even more favorable for Democrats is the acquisition of parts of LaPorte County, including Democratic-heavy Michigan City.
Visclosky has won with an overwhelming percentage of the vote in recent cycles, and that's not going to change anytime soon. In fact, the new map means re-election will likely only get a little bit easier for Visclosky in future cycles.
Open seat: Joe Donnelly (D) is running for Senate
Rating: Likely Republican
Even Donnelly did not want to run for re-election here, which speaks volumes about how much this district was affected by Republican-controlled redistricting. Donnelly opted to run for Senate instead of take a chance on his new district, which Republicans in the state Legislature redrew without several Democratic areas.
The most devastating change for 2nd district Democrats was the loss of Kokomo, a middle-class town with heavy union membership and reliable Donnelly voters. Kokomo is now split between the heavily Republican 4th and 5th districts.
The new district also lost part of LaPorte County, including Democratic Michigan City, to the 1st district. Meanwhile, the district picked up the GOP-heavy Elkhart County.
This seat is not unwinnable for Democrats, but it's not exactly prime competitive territory, either. It's definitely not the most competitive district in the state anymore. Donnelly would have been Democrats' best candidate in the 2nd district, and now the party is left searching for someone to give it a shot.comments powered by Disqus