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January 23, 2019

Messer Plans To Take The Fifth
A Brief History of Indiana's 5th and a Peek at the Future
Indiana's 5th congressional district is made up of the eastern and northern suburbs of Indianapolis and includes Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Huntington, Miami, Tipton and Wabash counties, plus portions of Howard, Johnson, Marion and Shelby counties.

Residents of the district are predominately Caucasian. Residents are also more affluent and have higher levels of educational attainment than most of Indiana's other congressional districts.

Which means it's a Republican district.

More accurately, it's a Republican enclave.

Even more accurately, it's a Republican bastion.

Okay, most accurately, it's a friggin' Republican stronghold.

Sure, there are some non-Republican residents in the counties that make up Indiana's 5th District, but nearly all political opposition has been systematically eliminated by manipulating political boundaries through gerrymandering. (Meaning the political opposition has been surgically removed).

As a result, Indiana's 5th Congressional District is one of the safest, most dependable, most reliable Republican districts in the entire United States.

Oh yeah, it's also one of the whitest.

The 5th District is represented by Republican Danny "Dan" Lee Burton, a 14-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives and an avid golfer.

Burton first ran for Congress in 1970 but lost to incumbent Democrat Andy Jacobs, Jr.

Burton ran again in 1972 but lost to fellow Republican William Hudnut in the primary.

After the 1980 census, the Republican-controlled state legislature created a new 6th District made up of Republican-leaning counties surrounding Indianapolis. Burton ran in the newly defined district and won both the primary and general elections in 1982. He assumed the office on January 3, 1983. (The district was renumbered as the 5th District after the 2000 census)

Burton has won every election since, usually receiving over 60 percent of the vote.

However, Burton was challenged in the 2008 Republican primary by former Marion County Coroner, Dr. John McGoff. Burton won the primary contest with a margin of approximately 6 percentage points. He subsequently defeated his Democrat opponent, Mary Ruley, in the November 2008 general election (66 percent to 34 percent).

But we all know how politics works. Just as soon as we finish one election, it's time to start the next. And this time, many Republicans think Burton is vulnerable.

That's why the 2010 Republican primary already has at least five candidates interested in capturing Dan Burton's congressional seat: Carl Brizzi, John McGoff, Mike Murphy, Brose McVey and Luke Messer.

McVey and Messer have already announced their intentions.

Luke Messer is currently a Shelbyville resident. He is a former state representative for District 57 and a former executive director of the Indiana Republican Party.

Even though support from the local Shelby County Republican Party is either "Luke"warm (I apologize) or non-existent, Messer may be the most likely candidate to unseat Burton in the Republican primary.

However, let's be honest, all five of the interested candidates so far are pretty much the same. Each has a pedigree of public service, a commitment to good old "patriotic conservative values" and steadfast loyalty to the Republican Party.

Which means they are all like Dan Burton.

But Messer may have a fundraising advantage. He already has endorsements from some old-time, traditional bigwigs and heavy hitters in the Indiana Republican Party which could translate into lots of money for his campaign.

In 2005, Messer was recognized by the Indianapolis Business Journal as one of the rising stars in Indiana Republican politics. Messer said in the publication's annual "40 under 40" feature, "I work hard and try to be nice to people and follow through on my promises." He said he has always tried to follow the adage of the late President Ronald Reagan: "Thou shall not speak ill of other Republicans."

The IBJ article concluded that Messer loves politics and hopes to have opportunities to embrace more and more leadership challenges, perhaps in Congress or even the governorship.

I love politics, too.

So I plan to embrace many comedic opportunities that are almost certain to occur in Indiana's 5th Congressional District during the next couple of years.

That's why you'll find a new section on called "5th District Funnies".

Be sure to visit the section often for periodic cartoon commentary on 5th District politics.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, April 19, 2009
Article comment by: Spiro T. Agnew

As most everyone knows, Burton represents no one but himself and the country club where he plays golf.

If you don't like the local gambling casino, consider that Messer (the name says it all) played a major role in getting it here. So much for "family values," huh?

Pa Kettle would be a much better candidate than either one of these two.

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