(and sacrificial lambs) This time four years ago, Dan Burton was busy brushing aside a scandal about his womanizing and fathering a child outside of his marriage. A Vanity Fair reporter had unearthed a long list of allegations and the story was about to run. Burton, knowing he really had nothing to lose, stepped up and admitted to some of his indiscretions. The same man who had called Bill Clinton a "scumbag" and had long trumpeted the importance of family values was caught in his own web of lies.
Chris Adkins, Libertarian Candidate
It would have seemed a prime opportunity for the Democrats to break through and do some damage against a man who had held the District 6 U.S. representative seat for 18 years. One problem: The Democrats had put their usual amount of effort into challenging Burton. And the candidate was a quirky convicted felon named Bob Kern. Instead of cashing in on Burton"s weakness, the Democrats saw the race turn into a fiasco. Kern, who once called for a gas mask for every American, wound up the butt of jokes during an election-night segment on Comedy Central"s The Daily Show. Burton walked away unscathed, taking 70 percent of the vote. By 2000, Burton"s skirt-chasing scandal seemed completely forgotten. Darin Patrick Griesey, once again getting little support from the Democratic Party, got thumped. He took 26 percent of the votes and Libertarian Joe Hauptman managed 3 percent. Griesey"s campaign literature showed him dressed in a suit and a cowboy hat while riding a horse. He sent the press copies of his latest CD, an unusual blend of dance and lounge music. While no criminal, Griesey was definitely another quirky Democratic candidate. Voters don"t like quirky. And the Democrats don"t like fighting battles they feel they can"t win, according to Chris Adkins. He"s the Libertarian candidate running against Burton in what"s now District 5. "Everybody knows who"s going to win before the elections start," says Adkins, a 32-year-old Fortville resident running in his first election. "They just send out some nobody. They don"t put up a real challenge." Daniel Yovich, press secretary for Indiana"s Democratic Party, isn"t going to argue when it comes to District 5. "You hit the nail on the head. Historically, the Democrats view that area as a lockbox of Republicanism," he says. "We focus our efforts on other areas of the state where we have a chance to make a difference." But Adkins believes the parties shouldn"t roll over - even in a district like Burton"s. He sees attitudes like this as part of a two-party trade-out. "That"s the big problem with the two-party system," he says. "They take care of each other." Gerrymandered districts, like Burton"s suburban doughnut and Julia Carson"s in the inner city, have created a situation, Adkins believes, where everything is conveniently split down the middle. And that only leads to job security for the politicians and gridlock for our government. "If you look at the Senate, it"s 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. How much work are they going to get done?" Adkins says. "So the parties protect each other. They protect their jobs." Adkins would like to see a split of something like 40 percent each for the Democrats and Republicans and 20 percent for other parties. But that can"t happen as long as people vote straight ticket. "That"s the biggest problem. People come in thinking, "I"m a Democrat," or, "I"m a Republican," and pull a lever with no idea who the candidates are they"re voting for," Adkins says. "Voters need to get out of that mindset and research who they vote for." Katherine Fox Carr is the Democrat facing Burton in November. A 59-year-old grandmother and part-time substitute teacher, Carr has never run for office. The Wanamaker resident has spent $14,000 on her campaign so far, very little came from the state Democrats. "Somebody told me it"s good that I"m not connected to a lot of money," Carr says. "I don"t owe anybody anything." Meanwhile, Burton still raised $682,052 in campaign contributions in 2001-2002. He has a war chest of over a million dollars at his disposal - all to battle the likes of Adkins, who isn"t spending any money on his campaign, and Carr.