Jack Colwell: Hall will make 2nd CD a battleground

SOUTH BEND – Indiana’s 2nd District will be a battleground this fall, certain to be targeted by Democrats nationally in the quest to capture enough Republican-held congressional seats to gain control of the House.

Democratic congressional nominee Mel Hall, who won impressively in the primary election Tuesday, now challenges Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, who seeks a fourth term. She won by a ton in 2016 in a district solidly for Donald Trump. She will be difficult to upset.

But Hall, a former corporate CEO with a moderate Democratic approach similar to that of Sen. Joe Donnelly, who once represented the district in the House, is an ideal challenger for a Republican-flavored area. He demonstrated fundraising ability and campaign skill in warding off two determined opponents in the primary and winning in all 10 counties of the district.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is certain now to focus top targeting on the 2nd in its “Red to Blue” effort to flip enough Republican seats to Democratic challengers to gain control of the House. Targeting is significant. The DCCC will provide organizational and fundraising support, signaling to Democrats nationally that Hall is a candidate to back. Donnelly, when he first ran for the House, didn’t get a cent from the DCCC and was clobbered. Two years later, he was targeted for all-out DCCC support and handily upset the Republican incumbent, Chris Chocola. DCCC support certainly didn’t do it all, but it helped a lot in a sprawling district where getting an effective TV message districtwide is vital.

Hall, former CEO of Press Ganey, South Bend-based collector of patient satisfaction data for hospitals nationally, relied on effective TV ads to reach the entire district, even buying time on cable TV from Chicago and Indianapolis to reach its edges. He faced determined challenges in the primary from Pat Hackett, South Bend attorney who appealed to the progressive wing of the party and contended that Hall wasn’t a true-blue Democrat, and Yatish Joshi, a wealthy South Bend businessman who poured over half-a-million dollars of his own money into his campaign.

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