9th Congressional District: Republicans tout variety of experience


Five Republicans vying for their party’s nomination for the 9th U.S. Congressional district cite their experience as the reason they should be elected.

This spring, voters will select one candidate each to earn the Republican Party’s and Democratic Party’s nominations, and those people will move onto the general election in the fall.

Republican voters will choose among the Indiana attorney general, two state senators, a former manufacturing worker and a business owner.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Todd Young, a Republican, is not seeking re-election.

The 9th District includes a large swath of southern Indiana, from Johnson County to the Ohio River.

The decisions made by members of Congress have a significant impact on area residents, from taxes on small businesses to the overreach of the federal government into homes, schools and communities, candidates said.

State Sen. Erin Houchin, who now represents Washington County, has lived and worked in southern Indiana her entire life. She said her conservative values prompted her to run for state office first, and now federal office.

State Sen. Brent Waltz, who now represents part of Marion and Johnson counties, said his experience in state and local government and in business make him well-qualified to serve in Congress.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller touted his experience suing the federal government in his current role, along with working with former Vice President Dan Quayle, leading the World Trade Center of Indiana and as a trained mediator.

Two other candidates said they are the best choice because of their experience outside of government.

Robert “Bob” Hall has helped manufacturing companies improve efficiency, and also served on volunteer boards to find ways to eliminate waste. He has served on a township advisory board, but has not otherwise previously held a government office. He does have experience with campaigns and in the Republican Party, he said.

Trey Hollingsworth cited his experience creating jobs in the private sector after starting HCP, which renovates industrial business sites. He knows what it is like to operate a business and face federal regulations, and said government needs to get back to its business sense in order to allow the private sector to create new jobs.

All five candidates cited a need to add jobs and to limit or cut government spending.

Hollingsworth said he wanted to see strong growth in the private sector with new products and technology that would lead to more careers, and not just jobs. And that means government also needs to not overspend and not overreach, he said.

Hall cited a recent trend of moving jobs to other countries and said that has been due to federal government policies, such as the income tax, health care reform and environmental regulations. He said he would do all he could to change those, while also working toward a balanced budget.

Waltz cited similar concerns, including the recent decision by Carrier to move jobs out of the country. Lawmakers need to look closely at the corporations that receive government benefits and develop trade policies that look out for the American worker, Waltz said.

Job creators should be rewarded under the federal tax code, and the priority of government should be to support small businesses, Houchin said. That includes making sure government has a balanced budget, and that government isn’t reaching too far into people’s homes, doctors’ offices, schools, backyards and businesses, she said.

The 9th District has some of the best economic opportunities, but the challenge is making the best of those, Zoeller said. He wants the federal government to focus on its proper roles, including health and safety, such as maintaining proper infrastructure, he said.

All five candidates said they would work hard to stay in touch with their constituents in Indiana if elected, so they continue to know the key issues here.

Trey Hollingsworth

Party: Republican

Residence: Jeffersonville

Family: Wife, Kelly

Education: Bachelor’s from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; master’s in business from Georgetown University

Work: Founded HCP, which renovates industrial business sites

Political experience: none

Erin Houchin

Party: Republican

Residence: Salem

Family: Husband, Dustin; three children, ages 7, 10 and 12

Education: Bachelor’s in psychology from Indiana University; master’s in political management from George Washington University

Work: Stay-at-home mom, state senator; previously worked as an investigator and case manager for the Indiana Department of Child Services

Political experience: State senator since 2014, previously worked on other campaigns and worked for U.S. Sen. Dan Coats

Party: Republican

Residence: Bloomington

Family: Wife, Mary Jane; two adult sons

Education: Bachelor’s in industrial engineering from Purdue University; master’s of business administration from University of Chicago

Work: Retired from career in manufacturing, works as consultant

Political experience: Township advisory board; previously worked on other campaigns

Brent Waltz

Party: Republican

Residence: Greenwood

Family: Single

Education: Bachelor’s in history from Wabash College

Work: State senator and president of the Baron Group, an investment banking company

Political experience: Indiana State Senate for 12 years; previously served on Johnson County Council

Greg Zoeller

Party: Republican

Residence: New Albany

Family: Wife, Kerrie; three adult children

Education: Bachelor’s in computer science from Purdue University; graduate of Indiana University law school

Work: Indiana attorney general, previous experience with world trade

Political experience: Two terms as attorney general

About the job

U.S. Congressional District 9

Represents: A large section of southern Indiana, from Johnson County to the Ohio River

Duties: Approve the federal budget and propose and approve federal laws

Pay: Base salary $174,000

Term: Two years