Rep. Larry Bucshon easily fends off primary challenge from Kristi Risk
Evansville Courier and Press
9 May 12
Bolstered by huge financial and organizational advantages and unencumbered by the crippling liabilities that brought down Sen. Richard Lugar Tuesday, 8th District Rep. Larry Bucshon beat back a challenge on his right flank.
Bucshon's victory over Owen County conservative activist Kristi Risk in the Republican primary election sets up what promises to be a hotly contested fall race against Democrat Dave Crooks. A Daviess County-based former state legislator, Crooks vanquished two underfunded and little-known opponents in Tuesday's Democratic primary. Libertarian Party nominee Bart Gadau, an Evansville-based graphic design and media services professional, also will be in the race.
Speaking from Washington, D.C., where he is participating in a House-Senate conference committee charged with reauthorizing legislation enabling federal highway spending, Bucshon said he took seriously the challenge posed by Risk.
Photo by Eric Connolly
Rep. Larry Bucshon
"Kristi was in the race (in 2010), she had a good ground game, and I applaud her for her hard work in the race," said the first-term congressman, a Newburgh resident and former heart surgeon.
It was a reference to the crowded 2010 GOP primary, when Risk and Bucshon
were first-time candidates, and she nearly defeated him despite having to compete for conservative votes with several other candidates.
Bucshon, 49, and Crooks each said the general election campaign will focus on sharpening, rather than blurring, policy differences.
"(Crooks) endorsed President Obama (before the 2008 Democratic presidential primary in Indiana), he endorses his policies, and I just think those are the wrong policies for the 8th District in Indiana," Bucshon said.
Crooks, 48, likewise vowed to take the fight to Bucshon.
"What we're going to be able to do in the months to come is just to point out who's got the best interests of the majority of the district. I would argue that I'm going to represent everyone, where (Bucshon) seems to want to represent a narrow few," Crooks said, speaking from a Democratic Party event at Central Labor Council in Evansville. "I think people will welcome change this November."
National Democrats have identified the politically competitive 8th District as a prime pickup opportunity, moving it into their top tier of Republican-held seats to target in the general election. Bucshon has held the seat for just 16 months and has not had time to become politically entrenched.
In Tuesday's Republican primary, Risk was simply outgunned.
Although Risk waged a vigorous door-to-door campaign and appeared at numerous Republican and conservative gatherings, she could not raise enough money to widely disseminate her message — that Bucshon had broken faith with conservatives who elected him to help lead a charge of congressional revolutionaries against Democratic President Barack Obama's policies.
Meanwhile, Bucshon made heavy use of television and Internet advertising and waged robust telephone bank and targeted mail campaigns.
Bucshon's preprimary campaign finance report showed him with $266,423.74 on hand as of April 18. Risk reported raising slightly more than $48,000 in cash and in-kind donations through the entire campaign, ending the reporting period with slightly less than $9,302.
"We ran hard, we gave them a choice, and we held his feet to the fire," Risk said Tuesday night, noting she felt she lost the race because she couldn't compete with his resources. Risk pledged her support to Bucshon as he goes into the fall election.