Experienced congressman overwhelms challenger

By Evansville Courier & Press

Better known, far better funded and possessing all the advantages of incumbency, Republican U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon overwhelmed primary election challenger Andrew McNeil Tuesday night.

The second-term 8th District congressman defeated McNeil, an Owen County resident making his first bid for elected office. He received 30,944 votes, or 75 percent; McNeil received 10,395 votes, or 25 percent.

In Dubois County, Bucshon garnered 1,646 votes (68 percent) to McNeil’s 764 votes (32 percent). He was victorious even in McNeil’s home county. Bucshon won Owen County by a margin of 1,013 votes (57 percent) to 749 (43 percent).

“I’m honored that the people in the Republican Party in the 8th District think I’m doing a good job on their behalf,” the 51-year-old Bucshon said by telephone from Washington, D.C., where Congress is in session. “I thank (McNeil) for being willing to run. Anybody that’s willing to put their name on a ballot and go out and campaign on what they believe in, it takes courage and willpower and hard work to do that.”

In November’s general election, Bucshon will face Jasper Democrat Tom Spangler, who was unopposed for his party’s nomination, and Libertarian Party nominee Andy Horning.

McNeil, a 40-year-old conservative activist and resident of Freedom, pledged to support Bucshon.
During the primary campaign, he had criticized the two-term congressman as a foot soldier for establishment GOP leaders in Washington.

“We’re still kind of going through what happened. Obviously, we’re very disappointed,” McNeil said.

McNeil said during the campaign that he had quit his job of 16 years as sales territory manager for coffee company Ronnoco to concentrate on ousting Bucshon. Usually accompanied by his wife, Andrea, and several of their seven children, he tirelessly campaigned in small businesses, at candidate forums and on voters’ doorsteps.

But in a 19-county, 668-precinct congressional district that stretches from Vanderburgh County to north of Terre Haute in Vermillion County, it wasn’t nearly enough. Unable to attract the political action committee contributions that flow to incumbent members of Congress, McNeil could not begin to match Bucshon’s television and social media ad campaign.

Herald Staff Writer Candy Neal contributed to this report.

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