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May 6, 2014

U.S. Rep. Bucshon easily advances

TERRE HAUTE — U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon readily held off a challenge from Andrew McNeil to win the Republican primary in Indiana’s 8th district in Tuesday’s primary election.

He will face Democrat Tom Spangler in the general election in November. The Jasper businessman ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Bucshon, who is seeking a third term, had 75 percent of the vote with all 668 precincts counted; Bucshon had 30,944 votes to McNeil’s 10,395. It was McNeil’s first run for office.

“It’s an honor and privilege to represent the 8th district,” Bucshon told the Tribune-Star. “I’ve done what I said I would do. I have a solid conservative voting record, and I’ve shown I can work with those on the other side of the aisle to keep the ball moving.”

He told the Associated Press he thinks people are frustrated that the House and Senate are controlled by different parties and can’t agree on issues.

“But I think they recognize their individual members are doing the best they can to represent their districts,” he told AP.

In Vigo County, Bucshon took 77 percent of the Republican vote, defeating McNeil 2,276 to 681.

In a concession speech Tuesday night, McNeil, 40, of Freedom in Owen County, thanked his supporters. He told them he had just called Bucshon to congratulate him on his victory “and to wish him and his family the best moving forward,” according to his campaign website.

He further stated, “America, now more than ever, needs strong Republican leadership in Congress. The voters of the 8th district have declared that Dr. Bucshon will best be able to carry our cause onward to D.C.”

McNeil, who was heavily outspent by Bucshon during the primary, criticized the congressman for not being conservative enough.

The father of seven, McNeil was formerly territory manager for a Midwest coffee company until resigning to focus on the campaign.

Bucshon, a heart surgeon from Newburgh, said in a recent interview he believes he has earned a third term with his efforts to stay in touch with constituents and his accomplishments in Congress.

Those accomplishments include passage of two bills that he authored; he also served on two conference committees that helped craft final legislation.

Priorities have included replacing the Affordable Care Act with what he calls patient-centered, private sector-based healthcare reform. He wants to cut government spending and get the federal budget under control.

Another priority has been protecting the coal industry; he has been critical of EPA and new regulations that put new coal mines at risk.

McNeil had said he favored “radical” change and he didn’t believe Republicans and Democrats needed more cooperation and compromise. McNeil supported the tea party and believes it “has been the one thing keeping the Republican Party viable. It’s the energy and the conscience of the Republican Party.”

Brian Howey, political columnist, said in a previous interview there is a “pretty strong tea party strain in the 8th district.”

But Howey also says that “to beat an incumbent, you need to raise money and you need some kind of network,” and it didn’t appear McNeil had enough of either to defeat Bucshon.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.The AP contributed to this report.

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