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Anne Kibbler

Anne Kibbler

Posted: October 19, 2010 05:58 PM

TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- Despite poll numbers firmly in his favor, a growing campaign chest and the withdrawal of Democratic funding from ads supporting his opponent, Indiana 8th District Republican candidate Larry Bucshon says he's not resting until the election is over.

"I feel very optimistic about our position in the race," Bucshon said in an interview after a campaign rally with Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., in Terre Haute, Ind., Saturday. "The message we've carried across the district has grabbed hold of a lot of people, and it's the right message for this district."

But, he added, "The only poll that counts is election day Nov. 2. I'm not taking anything for granted."

About 100 people, including about 50 who arrived on the Mike Pence Road Team bus, attended the morning rally at the Vigo County Fairgrounds.

Two straw polls conducted this week in communities in the so-called "Bloody 8th," known for its contentious elections, put Bucshon ahead of Democrat Trent Van Haaften. The Brazil Times poll had Bucshon at 53.8 percent to Van Haaften's 26.9 percent, and the Greene County Daily World put the numbers at 41.3 percent for Bucshon and 28.2 percent for Van Haaften.

A mid-September poll conducted by On Message for the National Republican Campaign Committee placed Bucshon ahead of Van Haaften, 41 percent to 20 percent.

Bucshon received more good news Friday in the form of new Federal Election Commission statistics indicating he raised almost $298,000 in the third quarter ending Sept. 30 and had close to $320,000 cash on hand, while Van Haaften raised $215,000 and had $259,000 on hand. In all, Bucshon has raised more than $815,000 and Van Haaften almost $700,000, according to the FEC.

Bucshon said the overriding issue he's heard about from constituents as he has traveled the district is unemployment.

"I think not only Republicans in Indiana, but also Democrats are concerned about the direction the country's heading in," he said. "Democrats in the 8th District are conservatives. They're concerned about spending."

Bucshon said the withdrawal of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee funding from ads supporting Van Haaften is an indication that his message is getting through to voters -- and to Democrats

"They have other races they perceive as being closer, especially incumbent races, and they need the money there," he said.

Bucshon said he had no involvement with recent ads attacking Van Haaften that were paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee and an independent group called Americans for Job Security.

"We appreciate any conservative thinkers who are trying to help us, but we're focusing on our campaign," he said.

He said funding by outside groups such as Americans for Job Security is not a new phenomenon.

"It's been happening for many years on both sides of the aisle," he said. "It's free speech, and we don't have any control over it."

Americans for Job Security has ties to former Bush strategist Karl Rove, with whom Bucshon attended a fundraiser in Chicago in late September.

Being associated with high-profile names such as Rove and Sarah Palin, whose political action committee, Sarah PAC, gave $3,500 to Bucshon's campaign in June, is no different than Van Haaften's association with groups and individuals who raise money for his campaign, Bucshon said.

"It's not directing our message," Bucshon said. "It's part of the process, and we appreciate the support."