One of the many congressional races being closely watched nationally is the contest in southern Indiana’s 9th District, where five-term incumbent Democrat Baron Hill is trying to hold off a strong challenge from Republican Todd Young.

Click below to hear the story.

Todd Young (pictured at top, right) is a Bloomington attorney and deputy prosecutor who defeated Travis Hankins and former Congressman Mike Sodrel in the May primary.               

Like many GOP candidates, Young has painted his opponent as a big spending, big government Democrat.

Young TV ad: “People ask me why I’m running for Congress.    My answer, because Baron Hill won’t stand up to Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. First he votes for a job-killing energy bill and then Baron Hill votes to let government take over our health care……”

Hill (below, right) one of the House’s so called “Blue Dog” moderate Democrats, has labeled Young as a wealthy lawyer who’s out of touch with many in the district and whose policies could pose a threat to Hoosier retirees.

Hill TV Ad “First this: ‘Social Security is a Ponzi sheme.’    Now this:   Todd Young thinks Social Security and Medicare are social welfare programs…..”    

“I believe that Mr. Young is for privatization of those folks who are 55 years of age and younger,” said Baron Hill at the second of two debates with Young and Libertarian candidate Greg Knott held recently at Indiana University.

He’s referring a concept that was pushed by former President George W. Bush but failed to gain legislative traction. It would allow younger workers the choice of investing their Social Security deductions in the stock market.  

Hill says such a plan would be disastrous, pointing to the billions of investment dollars workers lost in the recession. During the summer Hill signed a pledge promising not to support privatization and during the IU debate tried to get Young to sign it.

Hill: “Here’s the pledge, I’ve signed it, I will not privatize Social Security, I urge you to sign it as well.”    Young: “Let’s have a meeting where we trade pledges on various matters, Mr. Hill.”

Young declined to sign the pledge. He says Hill has been distorting his position on Social Security.

“We need to honor our commitments to today’s seniors and those approaching retirement, insure they get every cent they’ve been promised. For those who are my age, we’re going to have to insure that the program remains solvent, because it’s important. I will await, as will Congressman Hill, on record, to see what the president’s fiscal responsbility commission report says we should do to make this program solvent,” Young said.

Also on the ballot is the aforementioned Libertarian candidate Greg Knott, who told the debate audience he’s running on a “No Bull” platform of smaller government, tax reform and a pullout of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“My solutions are non-partisan, and i will work with any representative of any party to get things done. However, I will also be the pimple on the backside of anyone who stands in the way of reform,” Knott said.

A poll this week conducted by the Washington newspaper The Hill gives Baron Hill 46 percent support, followed by Todd Young with 44 percent, with one percent saying they’ll vote for someone else and nine percent undecided. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation."