Indiana Republican Mike Sodrel
proved the second time was the charm last month when he narrowly defeated U.S.
Rep. Baron Hill for a seat in Congress representing Indiana’s ninth district.
Sodrel, who won by a slim margin
of about 1,400 votes in November’s election, had lost to Hill by some 10,000
votes in 2002.
The 58-year-old trucking company
executive is the first Republican to represent Indiana’s ninth congressional
district in the U.S. House in 40 years.
Shortly before the election,
Sodrel appeared with President Bush. He took advantage of Bush’s popularity in
the southern Indiana district and attacked Hill’s record.
Sodrel made an issue of Hill’s
support for permanent normal trade relations with China, saying it had cost
Indiana manufacturing jobs.
As an alternative, Sodrel said he
would work to keep current manufacturing jobs while using tax breaks and trade
regulations to attract high-tech industry. He also noted that the district had
lost 15,000 jobs in the past five years, and promised to work to reduce
regulations, simplify tax compliance and support making the Bush tax cuts
the concern for jobs, Sodrel told Land Line that the China trade
agreement is not likely to have a direct impact on trucking companies, large or
goods still have to travel from point of entry or place of manufacture to the
consumers,” he said. “Our nation cannot, however, become a nation of consumers.
We must maintain and strengthen our manufacturing base. Our economy and our
national security depend on our manufacturing industry.”
Citing Sodrel’s “practical
business experience, a good grasp of issues important to voters and service to
his community,” The Indianapolis Star endorsed Sodrel for the office.
“He recognizes the importance of
trade but is concerned that any agreements with other nations must benefit the
United States, …” the newspaper’s endorsement stated. “He calls himself a
‘practical environmentalist,’ saying the U.S. needs more domestic oil
production in the short run and more emphasis on biodiesel, ethanol and
hydrogen in the long run. Encouraging clean-oil technology, he notes, would
benefit the mining in southern Indiana.”
Sodrel reiterated to Land Line the need to develop more domestic oil production.
“It is not in our nation’s best
interest to be as dependent as we are on imported oil. Trucking companies of
all sizes need dependable sources of fuel, at stable prices, to keep America’s
economy moving. We certainly need to increase domestic supplies in an
environmentally sound fashion, but it needs to be done as soon as possible,” said the representative-elect.
Sodrel is owner and operator of
three businesses: The Free Enterprise System, a motor coach and contract
passenger carrier; SOLO Logistics; and Sodrel Truck Lines – employing more than
500 people across Indiana.
The former Army National Guardsman
still maintains a valid CDL.
Sodrel will be inaugurated into
office in January.
– By Keith Goble, state