By Nate Smith
With the advertising all locked in and most of the work done, both Dave Crooks and Larry Bucshon wait to see what will happen Tuesday.
The two 8th district congressional candidates did their final interviews this week before election day, discussing their outlook for election day and partly dismissing the other’s negative claims about themselves.
Bucshon, R-Newburgh, came to the Times Herald Wednesday as part of a last-week media tour. This is his first election as the incumbent and said it’s a little different this time around campaigning on his record, but said Crooks, D-Washington, has a record too.
“For this election, we didn’t know what to expect,” Bucshon said. “The first re-election campaign people say is the toughest, whatever office.”
Bucshon is proud of his record and is happy to campaign on it.
The offices of Crooks’ radio station WAMW has also served as campaign headquarters for the past year and a half. Between the cubicles of WAMW staffers are campaign workers, making last minute fundraising calls, media buys and scheduling.
Crooks is no stranger to campaigning, having been a state representative for 12 years. He believes he will be a representative that speaks with the regular voter.
“It’s down to whether people want someone who is going to stand up for the middle class and senior citizens,” Crooks said. “I would argue that (Bucshon) is out of touch with regular people that have to deal with putting food on the table and putting gas in their car.”
Crooks said he too is optimistic about his chances to be the first representative from Daviess County since Arthur Greenwood from 1923 to 1939. Homer Capehart won election to the Senate in 1944 and served until 1963.
“I think there are some very positive things that can come out of me being the congressman from Daviess County,” Crooks said.
The two last met during the debate season, culminating at their only face-to-face debate at Vincennes University on Oct. 24. It was there that Crooks presented an example of an October Surprise, as it is known in the political world.
Crooks claimed that instead of voting to eliminate foreign aid to Pakistan, Bucshon voted to give funds to those who hid Osama bin Laden. Two of those votes, Crooks claimed, were after U.S. special forces killed the al Qaida leader in 2011.
“When he’s going to Washington D.C. and claims he is going to save taxpayers money but yet there was an opportunity to join fellow Republicans and take away a billion dollars immediately and put it in the deficit reduction account? And he doesn’t take advantage of that opportunity and votes to cut Medicare?” Crooks said. “I think that is another example of how he is out of touch. I’m going to stand up for Social Security and Medicare if I’m elected.”
Bucshon, who was actually surprised by the claim during the debate, did look over his votes during the time. He defended them and believed the funds were needed to keep nuclear weapons away from the hands of terrorists.
“I made the right vote,” Bucshon said. “Mike Pence, Joe Donnelly, Todd Young and many others on both sides of the aisle agreed with me on that vote because the money is already highly restricted. It restricts what (Pakistan) could use them for.
The incumbent did say the country has to cooperate more with the U.S. on fighting terror groups that may use Pakistan as a base to carry on operations in Afghanistan during the fighting season.
Both candidates have said the hundreds of thousands poured into the race from Super PACs for negative advertising has spread false notions. Bucschon’s ads against him came from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and mostly say Bucshon wants a Medicare plan that will make seniors pay more in Medicare costs.
It is false, Bucshon explained, and one of his top priorities is to make Medicare stable.
He cites top fact-checking website politifact and the Wall Street Journal is dismissing the claim those under the age of 55 will have to pay $6,400 more a year.
“These are talking points from their side that, in our perspective, are not true,” Bucshon said.
On the other side, Super PACs have been running a lot of negative ads against Crooks. In them, they say he is a liberal career politician and will be a supporter of liberal causes, something that does not suit well in most of the eighth. Some of the supporting documents come from articles written in the Times Herald.
“This is just rhetoric from his campaign and his Super PAC buddies are just trying to paint me into something I’m not,” Crooks said.
Or that he is a career politician.
“Cheap shot,” Crooks said. “I’m 49 years of age. Twelve years in a citizen legislature does not make you a career politician. That’s just a distraction.”
The race has been competitive, mainly the reason for much Super PAC ads. Besides the Donnelly-Mourdock race for Senate, this has been one of the closely-watched races in Indiana. Both candidates have eclipsed the $1 million mark in campaign fundraising, without the Super PAC ad buys.
Both have garnered their share of endorsements. Bucshon’s come from the National Rifle Association, National Right to Life, Indiana Right to Life, Indiana and National Chambers of Commerce, National Federation of Small Businesses and the Indianapolis Star and the Evansville Courier and Press.
Crooks has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO, United Mine Workers, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, the Blue Dog Coalition, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and the Terre Haute Tribune-Star.
Both candidates believe Daviess County, a conservative county dominated by Republicans locally, holds promise. Bucshon believes it is because of his strong ties here since running for Congress in 2010.
“I think there’s a difference between people who know Dave personally and they will vote for him,” Bucshon said.
“I understand that.
“I still think we will do well in Daviess County because we spend a lot of time up there,” Bucshon said.
Crooks is considered a hometown boy, even though he grew up in Sullivan.
He said many conservatives in the county have supported him and donated to his campaign because they know and respect him.
“People who know me best have supported me regardless of party to be their next congressman,” Crooks said. “I’m going to what’s best for the communities.
“If I win Daviess County, I will be your next congressman,” Crooks said.
When asked, both were given one last pitch to the voters before Tuesday. Bucshon said it is important to have non-traditional people, like himself, in government.
“I’m running on my record and I’m proud of my record,” Bucshon said. “I have done the things I have said I would in the last campaign. I’m consistent and honest with the people on what I stand on, what I believe in and what I’ve done.”
Crooks said “every vote really will count” on Tuesday.
“Since moving to Daviess County 20 years ago, I’ve worked as hard as possible to make our community better via my radio stations and with my service as a state representative,” Crooks said. “I believe I can make a difference as the next congressman. I would be honored to serve my friends and neighbors in Congress.”