(WHAS11) -- After decades with Democrats Lee Hamilton and Baron Hill primarily representing Indiana's Ninth Congressional District (Republican Mike Sodrel was in office for two years), U.S. Representaive Todd Young is trying to become the first Republican in more than 40 years to win re-election in the district.
In past presidential elections, the district's results have been a bellwether for the country. Though the Ninth District's new boundaries make it trend more Republican, the congressional race between Young and first time challenger Shelli Yoder is setting up as a proxy battle of the presidential election.
The candidates agree - Mitt Romney's choice of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) also frames the debate here.
"It certainly brings Indiana's 9th district into clear focus as to what this race is going to be about," Yoder said.
"I think the Paul Ryan pick forces a honest conversation about big issues," Young said.
Those issues include Ryan's Medicare reform plan which keeps Medicare as we know it for current seniors, but allows future retirees to spend government provided vouchers to buy their own health insurance.
"Hoosier values teach us that some things simply aren't for sale, and the health care for our seniors are one of them," Yoder said. "To put the health care of our parents and grandparents health and security on to a coupon, is risky at best."
"I would never embrace a policy that would scrap Medicare. I would however embrace a comprehensive and coherent and detailed plan that would save Medicare," Young said.
Young says only Republicans have presented serious plans to make Medicare and Social Security sustainable for the future.
"I think it's unfortunate that for years members have been stealing money away that is intended for Social Security and spending it on everything but seniors' retirement," Young said.
Ryan's plan would reduce future Social Security benefits and raise the age of eligibility.
"This is a trust fund that we must protect and there are ways that we can address this, broadening the base of how we get our income, making sure that there are jobs, well paying jobs for those paying into the system so that there are more people to support each other," Yoder said.
With the jobless rate in Indiana and the nation stubbornly above eight percent, the congressional and national election may pivot on the question of jobs.
"An economic recovery that supports the middle class, to guaranteeing good paying jobs." Yoder said.
"I trust the American people to lead us to economic recovery, my opponent and others in the Democrat party seem to trust government," Young said.
Friday is Young's 40th birthday. He's a Navy and Marine veteran who worked for a conservative think tank and as an attorney before running for office. Click here for more information about Young.
Yoder is an associate director of professional development for Indiana University's Kelley School of Business and a former Miss Indiana. Click here for more information about Yoder.