2006: Brad Ellsworth for Congress
U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana's 8th district


This was the official website for Brad Ellsworth's 2006 campaign to represent Indiana's 8th district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ellsworth scored a landslide victory over Hostettler on November 7, 2006. He took 61% of the vote to Hostettler's 39% – by far the most lopsided defeat for an incumbent in the 2006 election.

Content is from the site's 2006  archived pages as well as other outside sources.

Meet Brad 

A Proud Hoosier

I was born in Jasper, Indiana and lived in Huntingburg, Indiana until I was about 10.  My parents raised my two brothers, a sister, and me.

We moved to Evansville, Indiana when my dad took a job at Alcoa in 1967.  Jobs were hard to come by during those days, and he said he was lucky he got the one he did because it offered unlimited overtime.  I remember how proud Dad was when he would come home and display to us kids a weekly pay stub with over 100 hours of actual work on it.  In those days, Dad felt lucky to have an opportunity to work one hundred hours.  That’s just how it was in those days: you went to work, did your job well, and saved every penny you could. 

Growing up, my family lived in a small working class neighborhood on a dead-end street.  My siblings, friends, and I could roam and play in the neighborhood as we pleased.  We were safe.  We were secure.

I graduated from Harrison High School in 1976 and from Indiana State University Evansville (now USI) in 1981.  I worked at Wesselman's grocery store and in the hardware department at Sears to pay for it all.  I just considered it an investment in my future.

We went to church every Sunday. 

I learned that church is about our faith, and that it is also about our community. 

These lessons aren’t insignificant.  They are important in this community and they are important in my family.

The lessons I learned in church have helped guide my life:  Justice, Fairness, and helping everyday people.  Those were the lessons I was taught to believe growing up and those are the lessons I have tried to teach my own daughter.

Beth & Andrea

After graduating from ISUE, I married my college sweetheart, Beth.  I came home from the PoliceAcademy on a Friday, got married on a Saturday, honeymooned that night at the Executive Inn in Evansville, and then returned to the Academy on Sunday. 

My marriage and the family I’ve built with Beth and our daughter, Andrea, are the things I’m most proud of in life. 

A Career In Service

I became a deputy sheriff in 1982.  I became a cop because I didn’t think it was fair that drug dealers could get rich while regular folks like my dad were working one hundreds hours a week. 

Because I’d worked for a college degree, I had opportunities to rise through the ranks. I went back to school Friday nights and Saturday mornings and got a Masters degree in Criminology from Indiana State University in Terre Haute.  The following year, I spent twelve weeks in Quantico, Virginia at the FBI National Academy.  Looking back, the choices I made to further my education beyond high school gave me the tools I have needed to advance my career as a law enforcement official.

I was fortunate enough to spend two years as a D.A.R.E. officer, traveling to many schools and teaching kids about the danger of drugs and alcohol abuse.  I tried to help take the lessons children learned from their parents at home and reinforce those lessons in the classroom. 

I’ve been in law enforcement for almost 25 years now, and I can tell you that today we face challenges I would have never dreamed of back in 1982.  My little dead-end street is a thing of the past.  I understand better than most the dangers that threaten to break up our communities.  The popular culture that assaults the values we try to teach our children:

- a meth lab cooking up drugs near a middle school;

- gangs moving in from the big cities because they smell an opportunity;

- TV shows and video games that glorify violence and sex as they compete to see who can show our kids the next provocative image.

Kids today don’t get to grow up the way we did.  Because our jobs as parents is harder, it doesn't mean that we can give up teaching our kids the lessons we learned from our own parents.

Running for Congress

Today, I’m running for Congress because I believe Washington has stopped listening. 
I’m a Sheriff, not a politician. 
I believe that Washington is letting us down. 
I’m running for Congress because I believe that Washington doesn’t listen to things we need as a community. 
I’m running for Congress because I believe that Washington doesn’t hear what we need as families.
I’m running for Congress because I believe ALL children deserve the opportunity to grow up safe and secure.

This is my life and who I am. I’d like you to join me and I ask for your support.

- Brad




I’ll protect our communities.  I’ve been a cop for almost 25 years now, and I can tell you that today we face challenges I would have never dreamed of when I started.   I know better than most the dangers that threaten to break up our communities: a coarse popular culture that assaults the values we try to teach our children, meth labs popping up near our schools, and gangs moving in from the big cities because they smell opportunity.  When I go to Washington I’m going keep on fighting these things with the same passion I’ve had for the last 25 years.  I know we can’t afford not to.

The Way Washington Works 
Listening to all this nonsense about lobbyists buying Congressmen and people switching their vote because someone wrote them a check, you’d think Washingtonwas the most corrupt city in America.  That may be, but let me tell you something else – the real problem isn’t in the laws, it’s in the criminals.  I know something about laws, and the one thing laws CAN’T do is prevent people from breaking them.  We can pass all the new laws we want, and we will.  But until we replace the people committed to breaking them, we’ll never have real reform.  Congress doesn’t belong to the politicians, and it certainly doesn’t belong to the criminals.  Congress belongs to us. 

We face a national crisis when it comes to illegal immigration.  The honest truth is that part of it is our own making.  When we capture illegals here in Vanderburgh County, my deputies call INS and INS tells them there’s no place to put them.  That’s not right.  It’s also not right when an Indiana employer passes over an American for a job only because an illegal worker is cheaper.  We need to tighten our borders, enforce the laws we have, and punish employers who break them.  This is about economic security as much as it is national security.

Family Values 
I’ll protect our families.  In my house, we were raised by my parents, not our television.  Strong communities are anchored in strong families.  I learned that church is about our community as much as it is our faith.  This is important in this community and it’s important in my family.  The church helps all of us decide who we are.  We’re all weak in our own ways, but I believe that none of us is so weak that we’re beyond hope.  The church has guided my life and my career.  I believe in justice, I believe in hope, I believe in salvation, and I believe in the value of life in all its forms, not just what people say to get elected.

I’ll protect our investment in the education of our children.  The American Dream is the belief that our children can do better than we did.  I believe this.  You believe this.  I’m running to make sure that our children can believe this.

Retirement Security 
I’ll protect an honest day’s work.  Accountability and fairness are values, not a dream.  Do your job, save every penny you can, and you deserve the pension and secure retirement you’ve earned.

Social Security 
I’ll protect Social Security.  Social Security is a guaranteed benefit.  Privatization removes the guarantee and reduces the benefit.  I will work to strengthen Social Security and oppose any plan that threatens it.

I’ll protect our jobs.  American jobs belong in America.  We need more of them. Bad trade agreements and corporate giveaways are just sweetheart deals for big corporations that don’t need them.


8th District: The Tribune-Star Endorses Brad Ellsworth -


There are 675,564 people living in the 8th Congressional District in Indiana, according to the latest Census.

That means there are 675,564 different opinions, needs, dreams, talents and life stories within the population of the 18 counties that comprise this district. We have one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives; the person who occupies it should keep the best interests of all 675,564 of us in mind before casting each vote.

Of course, a lawmaker cannot please all the people all the time, as Lincoln once advised. But members of Congress can and should consider the differing viewpoints among their entire constituency.

The candidate best-suited to do that here is Brad Ellsworth.

The 46-year-old Vanderburgh County sheriff is the Democrat challenger, but his stances on many issues are more easily identified as those of a Hoosier, rather than a particular party or ideology. Ironically, the six-term incumbent Republican John Hostettler lamented in their debate earlier this month that Democrats had concluded that the only way to “take back the 8th District is to find a candidate who talks like John Hostettler.”

That may be partially true. Democrats would be smart to offer a candidate that appeals to Republicans as well as to themselves. Elsworth does.

Likewise, Ellsworth, if elected, would be wise to show some of Hostettler’s independence. Four years ago, Hostettler saw no solid evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and voted against going to war there. His vote, which proved prescient, ran contrary to all but a handful of his fellow Republicans and many Democrats.

But the 45-year-old Hostettler’s maverick attitude has its polarizing side as well. While he relies on thoughtful, principled reasoning for stances, drawn from his strict belief in federal minimalism, some of his most extreme positions and comments leave the 8th District on the fringes among our fellow Americans. In 1995, he called for the abolition of the Department of Education and federal programs such as student loans. And last year, he voted against a White House-backed Hurricane Katrina relief package, citing the potential for abuse and fraud. Every senator voted in favor or it. The House passed it 410-11.

The Katrina vote exemplifies Hostettler’s predicament. Indeed, some of the hurricane relief funds were abused, as he predicted. But Hostettler cast his vote, and offered only a curt and delayed explanation afterward. That cavalier approach is one of his least-effective characteristics. His nonconformist stands are bold, but after 12 years, he doesn’t seem to be building a coalition of supporters within Congress or even his own party. That marginalizes Hostettler’s impact.

Ellsworth promises to take a fresh, open-minded approach here and in Washington. That can be done, regardless of insinuations by the National Republican Congressional Campaign and Hostettler that an Ellsworth victory opens the door for a takeover on Capitol Hill by liberal Democrats. The performance by the GOP leadership has most of America welcoming, not fearing, some sort of change. Besides, Ellsworth already has several clearly stated stances that run counter to his party’s liberal wing: supporting anti-abortion legislation and backing constitutional amendments to ban flag burning (a stand with which we disagree) and same-sex marriages. Obviously, he is not a puppet of a faction.

The Tribune-Star editorial board interviewed both candidates recently. In his session, Hostettler said that Ellsworth, if elected along with a new Democrat majority, will not get to cast a socially conservative vote on the issues that concern him because the liberal leadership will set a liberal lawmaking agenda. And as a freshman congressman, Ellsworth initially would not be placed in prime committee spots, as Hostettler could as a seven-term incumbent. The latter point may be true, temporarily. The first assumption, however, is not a foregone conclusion. In any event, over the long term, Ellsworth’s flexibility and open-mindedness will benefit people back in southwestern Indiana more than Hostettler’s intransigence.

In describing his intentions to the editorial board, Ellsworth said, “Congressmen can be independent, and you can be for the people, and you can get things done. That’s the kind of person America’s clamoring for right now. They’re tired of the partisans. It’s gonna be a fight, but those will be the people who end up being the powerful ones — the person that is that centrist, or the bridge builder as opposed to the wall builder.”

Sending a consensus builder will strengthen our district’s voice in Congress. Ellsworth is motivated to do just that and should represent the people of the 8th District — Democrats, Republicans and others — well in Washington.



Washington Stopped Listening

I’ve been out there in our communities.  I’ve worked a beat and I’ve driven a cruiser up and down 41 more times than I can count.  I know the first rule in protecting a community is to listen to it.   I feel the same way about being your Congressman.

When you come to see me, you’re the one that does the talking.  I’ll do the listening.

If you come to me and want to talk about folks losing their jobs and their pensions, we’ll talk about it.

If you come to me and want to talk about getting affordable health insurance for you or your kids, we’ll talk about it.

If you come to me and want to talk about illegal immigration, keeping our borders secure, we’ll talk about that.

If you come to me and want to talk about how we get proper health care and benefits for our veterans, we’ll for SURE talk about that. 

I can promise you that one thing I WON’T do is ignore you or change the subject to something I want to talk about.

I believe the job of the Congress is to listen to the people, not tell them what to do.

God gave us two ears and only one mouth for a good reason, and I think we all know that folks in Washington are using their mouths more than their ears.

And that’s while I’ll be an Ambassador for South and Western Indiana.  This district needs a leader.  Someone to fight for our businesses.  For our families.  For the communities we call home. 

I’ll go to Washington and advocate your views.  Your values.  And our Hoosier way of life.
-  Brad


Brad in the News

The 8th District in Indiana

Published: 2006 / nytimes.com

John Hostettler, the Republican who represents Indiana’s Eighth District, does it his way when it comes to seeking re-election. He manages his own campaign. He takes no PAC money. He enlists an army of volunteers — from rural and small-town churches, from families that home-school, from opponents of abortion — who share his deeply conservative views on social issues. And that approach has worked, with voters returning him to Congress five times since he first won election in 1994.

Mr. Hostettler, a mechanical engineer by profession, has also done it his own way in Congress — even when it made leaders of his party unhappy. He voted against going to war in Iraq and, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s immigration subcommittee, he has tangled with the Bush administration over its guest worker proposal.

But the Eighth District — invariably referred to by pundits as “the Bloody Eighth” — has a history of squeaker races.

There are those who say that this is the year and that Brad Ellsworth is the Democratic challenger who can knock Mr. Hostettler out. Mr. Ellsworth has a big edge in fund-raising. He is also the popular elected sheriff of Vanderburgh County and therefore likely to win considerable support in a county that provided crucial votes for Mr. Hostettler’s 2004 victory. And Mr. Ellsworth, who is anti-abortion and pro-gun, is not out of step with the conservative district he seeks to represent. He opposes a quick withdrawal from Iraq and, at least so far, has been reluctant to criticize President Bush, saying that anything that weakens the nation’s leader also weakens the nation.

Both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee have already run ads in the district. In a year when control of the House is at stake, there was no chance that the national parties would sit this one out.



8th District: Sheriff Challenges Incumbent John Hostettler - 10/29/2006

Above all else, Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth is an accessible public official, and he comes by it naturally. This is no campaign concoction.

During his nearly eight years serving as sheriff, the personable Ellsworth has demonstrated an openness and a willingness to listen and talk to constituents, friend and foe, and to work with other public officials in an atmosphere of cooperation.

That's all nice, but what do personality traits have to do with a congressional election? In the 8th District, a great deal. Accessibility may be the key issue on which this contest will turn.

In a race that finds the candidates agreeing on many of the national issues, openness and accessibility with others are the qualities that so clearly separate Democrat Ellsworth and his Republican opponent, incumbent John Hostettler, for the 8th District congressional seat.

It is a quality that has been sorely lacking during Hostettler's 12 years as the people's representative.

When he was first elected to the office in 1994, he came in with little experience in meeting the public, never before having campaigned for or held public office.

But since then, he has had more than ample time to grow into a representative who would openly embrace the diversity of thought and people one finds in any congressional district.

Instead, he remains today an ideologue who shows little interest in constituents who might not see the nation as he does.

For example, a radio campaign ad Hostettler put out last week said that electing Democrats would allow them to advance a "homosexual agenda." He later told the Associated Press, "8th District voters are concerned about the homosexual agenda."

Shame on him. He narrowly paints the entire district with a broad brush of homophobia, signaling a disconnect with many who live in the district.

In this election, more than in any other during the past 12 years, we detect an 8th District electorate that has grown weary of feeling isolated from the man they pay to represent them in Washington.

The weariness was there before, yet district Democrats had done such a poor job of enlisting strong candidates to challenge Hostettler that voters had little choice but to send him back to Washington.

That's not the case this election. In Ellsworth, the Democrats have brought forth a strong candidate who not only reflects many of the conservative views of the district, but one who is capable of opening the door once again to constituents' concerns, regardless of party or political views.

Hostettler's campaign has hammered away at the idea that if Ellsworth is elected and Democrats retake control of the House, it will mean that San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi would become speaker of the House. (It was the theme of his "homosexual agenda" ad.)

In fact, Democrats could take the House on Nov. 7, regardless of the outcome in the 8th District. Yet, as Ellsworth says, this election is about whether the people of this district can choose their own representative. The 8th District vote is about selecting Ellsworth or selecting Hostettler to represent us. It is not about whether Pelosi or Dennis Hastert, the current Republican speaker, leads the House in 2007. It's about Indiana.

As we said, on many national issues - on illegal immigration, terrorism, the war in Iraq - Ellsworth and Hostettler are not far apart.

But one issue on which they do differ is the minimum wage. Here, Ellsworth would vote for an increase, and Hostettler would not. Ellsworth has it right.

America's lowest-paid workers have not received an increase in pay since 1997, when the minimum wage went from $4.88 to $5.15. Since then, and with no more raises, the purchasing power for the minimum-wage worker has deteriorated. Yet during the period, members of Congress have allowed their own automatic pay increases to go forward. In 1997 the basic pay for members of Congress was $136,673, and in January, it will go to $168,500.

On this and other serious issues, including Social Security and health care, what America needs are representatives in Congress who will work with others, regardless of party affiliation, for solutions that serve the people.

A sharply divided Washington needs more bridge building and collaboration, and a lot less of the demagoguery so prevalent on both sides of the aisle the past 20 years.

Ellsworth is optimistic.He says there is a multitude of grave issues facing the country, yet he said he believes the problems can be fixed "if we go after principle and not power." How radical and refreshing would that viewpoint be in Washington?

Ellsworth has much to learn. It was clear in the televised debate that Hostettler has a greater command of how Congress and Washington work. That's understandable. An inexperienced Hostettler stood at this same place 12 years ago.

In 1994, challenger Hostettler called his opponent, incumbent Rep. Frank McCloskey, a "liberal career politician" who needed to be retired. McCloskey had served six terms in the office, the same number of years now as Hostettler has served.

Hostettler is no liberal, but he is earning the label "career politician."

It is time for him to go, and it is time, once again, for the people of the 8th District to have a representative whose door is open to their views.

Brad Ellsworth is the clear choice for the 8th District congressional seat.



Note: My uncle and aunt who have lived in Evansville as far back as I can remember were enthusiastic supporters of Ellsworth who was a conservative Democrat. Since he opposed abortion and gun control, I had a hard time thinking of him as a Democrat. But once in Congress, he joined the Blue Dog Democrats caucus whose members identify themselves as fiscally-responsible, centrist Democrats. So I guess that fits. By the time Ellsworth was selected as the Democratic candidate in the 2010 U.S. Senate election for the seat in the United States Senate held by Democrat Evan Bayh, my uncle was in rehab for the first of many attempts to stop his drinking which had become a serious issue since he lost his job.

My parents would brainstorm for hour with my aunt trying to find the best solution for helping my uncle. I remember one of their interent searches for drugs that help a person weaning off alcohol. Naltrexone, and disulfiram, that's an unpleasant one, were the two that were available for treating alcoholics. It's too bad they didn't learn about baclofen before my uncle died in a car crash- driving while drunk. For a number of years doctors in Europe have been prescribing baclofen as the primary treatment for people who drink excessively. However, in the US, it has not yet received approval by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as a safe and effective treatment for alcohol or drug use disorders. But preliminary open-label studies from Italy demonstrated effectiveness of baclofen in reducing alcohol use among the alcoholics. In addition, results from a clinical study conducted by Brown University show alcohol-addicted participants receiving baclofen were able to abstain from drinking for longer periods of time than those who didn’t receive the drug. That all sounds promising. The more I read about the drug, now that I am in medical school, the more I realize that my uncle was probably well beyond the point of no return. He had been drinking far too long. This drug is more effective for people who are just beginning down that steep slope that leads to alcoholism. Well I digress. Ellsworth joined Evansville-based Vectren Corporation as president of its southern Indiana gas and electric utility division after his lose in 2010. The congressman for the Eighth District of Indiana is now Larry Bucshon, M.D., a Republican who faced Democratic nominee State Representative Trent Van Haaften in the 2010 race to fill the seat vacated by Congressman Brad Ellsworth. As of 2019 he still represents the Eighth District following a conservative agenda.

  • Bucshon has called for cuts in health care programs.
  • Bucshon co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, which declares that life begins at the moment of conception and is entitled to legal protection from that point forward.
  • Bucshon describes himself as a "long term friend of coal."
  • Bucshon opposes veterans having access to medical marijuana if recommended by their Veterans Health Administration doctor and if it is legal for medicinal purposes in their state of residence.
  • Bucshon supports the repeal of the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

In otherwords, he supports Trump and the GOP agenda. Neither my aunt or uncle ever voted for Ellsworth's successor.




- 10/29/2006


EVANSVILLE – Congressional candidate Brad Ellsworth today received both the Evansville Courier & Press and the Terre Haute Tribune-Starendorsements.

According to the Courier & Press, “Brad Ellsworth is the clear choice for the 8th District congressional seat.” [See: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2006/oct/29/8th-district/]

The paper noted Ellsworth’s accessibility and willingness to work with others.

“Above all else, Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth is an accessible public official,” the paper wrote. “During his nearly eight years serving as sheriff, the personable Ellsworth has demonstrated an openness and a willingness to listen and talk to constituents, friend and foe, and to work with other public officials in an atmosphere of cooperation. [See: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2006/oct/29/8th-district/]

Likewise, the Tribune-Star praised Ellsworth’s willingness to listen to people with different points of view. Noting the 8th Congressional District consists of 18 counties and 675,564 people with, “674,564 different opinions, needs, dreams, talents and life stories,” the paper wrote, “members of Congress can and should consider the differing viewpoints among their entire constituency. The candidate best-suited to do that here is Brad Ellsworth.” [See: http://www.tribstar.com/opinion/local_story_301225016.html?keyword=secondarystory]

Regarding Rep. John Hostettler, the Courier & Press wrote, “he remains today an ideologue who shows little interest in constituents who might not see the nation as he does.” [See: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2006/oct/29/8th-district/]

According to the Tribune-Star, “The Katrina vote exemplifies Hostettler’s predicament. Indeed, some of the hurricane relief funds were abused, as he predicted. But Hostettler cast his vote, and offered only a curt and delayed explanation afterward. That cavalier approach is one of his least-effective characteristics. His nonconformist stands are bold, but after 12 years, he doesn’t seem to be building a coalition of supporters within Congress or even his own party.” [See: http://www.tribstar.com/opinion/local_story_301225016.html?keyword=secondarystory]




Ellsworth Kicks Off Re-Election Campaign

Kevin Crafton -- Greencastle Banner-Graphic
Published: July 2, 2008

Congressman Brad Ellsworth announced Tuesday morning his intent to run for re-election. Ellsworth represents the 8th District that includes Putnam County.

Ellsworth made his announcement outside the Greencastle City Hall.

Mayor Sue Murray escorted Ellsworth into the Mary Rogers Field Park that lies directly east of City Hall where she introduced him. To a crowd of about 30, Ellsworth began speaking about how he hopes to continue taking Hoosier values to Washington.

"We've made a good start, but there's more work to do. And it's going to start with this election and this campaign," Ellsworth said. "Together, slowly but surely, we're beginning to change the way Washington works."

Ellsworth also told the crowd how he has started new legislation known as "PayGo" designed to curb government overspending. PayGo is a program that causes officials to pay-as-they-go rather than borrowing.

"People go to Washington for money as they should. But the problem is, Washington doesn't have any money either," Ellsworth said.

He also spoke about how there are people in Washington who are paid to look into how Congressmen vote to use it against them.

"When it comes to votes in Congress, there are only two options: Yes and No," Ellsworth said. "There is also a present button, but you guys don't send me there not to vote. From that, people in opposing campaigns will have someone go through the votes and be able to have a 'gotcha vote' piece for advertisement. You know what I mean. You've seen it in the Primaries that just happened."

Ellsworth continued by stating how some officials in Washington get caught up in this game. By doing that, they lose sight of what is important and why they are really there: to represent the people who put them there. More commonly these people are known as the voters.

"From the day I took office, I've believed very strongly that this is your seat. Too many people in Washington forget that. They start talking at you instead of listening to you," Ellsworth said. "I need to hear about what's keeping you up at night and I will always respect and listen to your opinion.

This statement is in accordance with Ellsworth's Open Door Policy for the 8th District constituents. In the 18 months since taking office, he has held over 400 meetings in the district, helped resolve 3,000 constituent problems with federal agencies and responded to over 75,000 constituent inquiries.

He concluded by telling the crowd, "You deserve someone in Washington you can count on. Someone you can trust to tell you the truth and represent your values.

"Someone who listens to you, stands up for you and does what's right."

Ellsworth is the United States Representative for the 8th District in Indiana.

He will visit three other cities today including Terre Haute, Vincennes and Evansville where he will promise to continue his work to bring change to Washington in a second term.

He serves on the Armed Services, Agriculture and Small Business Committees.

He is also a member of the conservative, fiscally responsible Blue Dog Coalition which works to eliminate the national debt and keep America's fiscal house in order.