When Washington Post political blogger Melinda Henneberger recently referred to Libertarian Andrew Horning as a "Hoosier Ralph Nader," she was admitting what political pundits from around the country have realized: Horning may sway the outcome of the heated U.S. Senate race in Indiana between Republican Richard Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly, who are both vying for Richard Lugar’s old seat. Most recent polls show Mourdock ahead of Donnelly by 5 percent, though earlier polls had Donnelly up by 2 percent.
Horning — who was once called "Indiana’s most prominent Libertarian" by the Indianapolis Star — is currently polling at 5 percent in most recent polls, and has been receiving a lot of national attention for his recent debate performances. Henneberger, for example, wrote that Horning "got in the most exciting line of a dull, dull night — by mocking the war on terror as an effort to head off the vile threat posed by ‘exploding underpants.’"
"A lot of people said that I won [the debate], but I didn’t like the way I came out," says Horning, who actually posted a public apology for what he considered an ‘out-of-sorts’ debate performance on his campaign’s Facebook wall. "I was sick, but the other two candidates were bickering and really proving every single point I was trying to make."
However, not all the reviews were positive from around the Hoosier state. "To put it in the most politically relevant terms, I’ve been getting attacked a lot lately," says Horning. "People from radio and newspapers have told me to drop out, and one paper from Ft. Wayne asked if third parties should be in the debate at all, specifically saying that I was a distraction ‘for voters who took their duty seriously.’"
Most notably, Indiana conservative radio host Greg Garrison recently told Horning that he was going to "the hottest place in hell" for being in the race.
Nonetheless, the critics and naysayers aren’t getting Horning down, as he is collecting a variety of endorsements from liberty groups around the state (who have usually endorsed Republicans in the past) as well as an endorsement from Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, whom he appeared with in front of a packed-house at a recent rally at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis.
"Young people are pretty responsive," says Horning. "In a recent online poll about who won the debate, people who actually watched it said I was the winner. It makes me feel pretty good — basically people who are paying attention are saying I was right and the other guys were wrong, and there are times in politics when right and wrong matters."
Looking forward, Horning promises to keep his campaign going strong until Election Day. "I’m still filling out questionnaires, I’m still doing interviews," says Horning. "The last debate is coming on Tuesday, and hopefully I’ll be healthy and on my game. Then we’ll really see how things are going."
The October 23 debate will air on WFYI TV and 90.1FM.