Monday, February 15, 2010

Mike Pence Endorses Sodrel In GOP Primary

Sarah Palin and Mike Sodrel

By Ben Zion Hershberg • • February 13, 2010

U.S. Rep. Mike Pence came to Southern Indiana on Saturday to endorse fellow Indiana Republican and former House colleague Mike Sodrel in the 9th District GOP primary.

Pence, R-Columbus, appeared at a noon news conference with Sodrel at the Clark County Republican headquarters in Jeffersonville and then at a luncheon at The Grand in New Albany.

“We need someone who can hit the ground running in the battle to preserve our constitutional rights and conservative principles,” Pence said in a statement. “This year, when Republicans will do well nationally, Sodrel will win again.”

If Sodrel wins the GOP nomination in the May 4 primary, he would face incumbent Democratic Rep. Baron Hill for the fifth time in a row in the general election. Sodrel, who lives in New Albany, won in 2004.

Sodrel is one of four candidates in the primary. The others are Todd Young of Bloomington, Travis Hankins of Columbus and Rick Warren of Elizabeth. Young and Hankins began their campaigns months before Sodrel’s entry in January. Warren formally entered the race earlier this month.

Ed Feigenbaum, publisher of Indiana Legislative Insight, a newsletter of politics and government, said it is historically unusual for elected officials to take positions on candidates in their parties’ primaries. But Pence has taken positions this year in contested primaries in several states, including Kansas, South Carolina and Florida, Feigenbaum said.

He said Pence’s involvement on behalf of Sodrel could range from personal friendship in 2005 and 2006 when both were in Congress to thinking that Sodrel has the best chance against Hill in the November election.

But Feigenbaum also said Pence’s support could backfire because of anti-establishment feeling among some conservative voters. Pence ranks third in the House Republican leadership.

“On balance, if I was Mike Sodrel, I would much rather have Mike Pence speaking out for me this early,” Feigenbaum said.

Sodrel said he appreciates Pence’s support.

“We worked together for two years,” Sodrel said. “He knows how I think and how I vote. He’s a good man.”

Reporter Ben Hershberg can be reached at (812) 949-4032.

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