by Jay Zimmer

When David Crooks girds up for his Congressional race, he’s heading into an arena that runs with the political blood of many before him – many of them dismembered incumbents.

Indiana’s Eighth Congressional District has a reputation, one known far and wide in American political annals.  It’s the race most often looked at by Hoosier pundits and national politicos especially when control of the House of Representatives hangs in the balance.

Formed in 1843, twenty-seven years after Indiana became a state, the Eighth District is based in Evansville.  It was widened after the Hoosier State lost a seat in the 2000 census\, which saw Bloomington broken away and folded into the state’s Ninth District.  The Eighth stretches along Indiana’s western border from Warren County, north of Terre Haute and Greencastle, to the southwest tip of the state.

In the years since its founding, the district has found the sobriquet, “Bloody 8th.”  The reputation comes from the many hard-fought and frequently nasty campaigns waged for the Congressional seat prize.  Political ads in the district are often negative and sufficiently vociferous to garner national attention.

And while most other districts in the Hoosier state are content to grant incumbents long tenure in Washington, the 8th is famous for turning out incumbents quickly.  Six incumbents were disposed of by Eighth District voters between 1966 and 1982, and the election of 1984 was so close it had to be decided in the Congress.  John Hostettler, who defeated long-term congressman Frank McCloskey in 1994’s “Republican Revolution” was himself turned out in 2006 when former Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth garnered 61% of the vote.

Larry Buschon took over when Ellsworth waged an unsuccessful  race for the Senate seat being vacated by Evan Bayh.  Buschon defends his seat against David Crooks this fall.