Sunday, September 21, 2008

front-page of the C-J

From Lesley Stedman Weidenbener...

With the Nov. 4 election some six weeks away, two of the three candidates running in the 9th Congressional District have ads on television -- but Republican Mike Sodrel doesn't.

Democrat Baron Hill and Libertarian Eric Schansberg each have had commercials running for weeks touting their views on gas prices, benefits for military veterans and other issues.

Sodrel, though, has yet to run his first ad and said last week that money -- or a lack of it -- is partly to blame...

This year, Hill has run three ads -- all positive, issue-oriented pieces that look at energy, Internet safety and veterans' issues.

"It's been so great to see the response" to the tone of the ads, Moreau said. "It's been a bipartisan response."

Schansberg said he has noticed the difference.

"The race doesn't look nearly as close and the money advantage allows Hill to run a cleaner race," said Schansberg, an economist at Indiana University Southeast. "The advertising so far is pretty tame, and what I've seen looks pretty positive. I don't think Hill feels a need to go negative."

Hill also is feeling little need, apparently, for a debate. Despite invitations from media and other groups, the candidates have not been able to agree to any joint forums.

Sodrel says he's willing. So does Schansberg. But Hill's campaign -- which two years ago repeatedly called on Sodrel to debate about gas prices -- has said the Democrat won't take part unless Sodrel apologizes to district voters for problems in the office transition between the candidates two years ago....

Sodrel has dismissed the complaint as an excuse to avoid a debate. Schansberg has a similar take, calling Hill's request for an apology "ridiculous and hypocritical."

Schansberg, meanwhile, has been trying to build up his name identification, holding town hall meetings to talk with voters, speaking to groups throughout the region and attending fairs, parades and other events. He's also put nine different ads on the radio and two on cable television.

His goal is fairly modest -- to capture a double-digit percentage of votes on Election Day.

Sodrel, though, is still hoping to win and played down any concern that he's not yet on TV....