JEFFERSONVILLE, In (WHAS11) -- Two years after narrowly defeating a Tea Party candidate to secure the Republican nomination en route to a general election victory, U.S. Rep. Todd Young (R-IN9) is walking a political tightrope within the GOP.
Young faces Democrat Shelli Yoder, an Indiana University business school administrator, in the fall election.
In his second term, Young says he would "stand on principle and provide loyal opposition where necessary, but be prepared to be fair minded and bipartisan where we can find common agreement."
The call for bipartisanship contrasts the criticism of compromise by the Tea Party Republican U.S. Senate candidate, Richard Mourdock who unseated U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) in the primary last month.
Young says his "common sense" politics fit Southern Indiana's Ninth District to a 'T,' but not necessarily the 'Tea' Party.
"(The voters) are not ideologues," Young said. "They just want common sensical solutions to current and future problems."
"I have Tea Party supporters," Young told WHAS11 when asked if he considers himself a Tea Party Congressman. "If Tea Party means balancing the budget and being fiscally responsible, than I am not uncomfortable with that notion. But I never characterize myself (as Tea Party) because I think different people have preconceived notions of what constitutes Tea Party and what doesn't."
Mourdock has no such reservations about aligning himself with the Tea Party movement.
"We just have different styles," Young said, "and I would say I'm looking as intently as I can for opportunities to cooperate with people, Republican and Democrat, on issues where we can find common ground. I would agree with Richard that on matters of principle, however, it's appropriate to stand our ground."
"So people can divine from that, differences between myself and Richard Mourdock," Young acknowledged, "but he will certainly be my choice as senator."
Young said he has a "collegial relationship" with Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Joe Donnelly, a fellow Congressman, calling him "a good person, a good man."
"Let's hope that race and my own race is about ideas and not personalities," Young said.
A contrast on issues is clear between Young and Yoder, who says the freshman Republican is out of touch.
"He is too partisan, absolutely," Yoder told WHAS11 after her primary victory. "If you look at his voting record, he's voted with the party, down the line."
"Do we trust Washington to create jobs or do we trust the American people," Young asked. "I trust the American people."
Yoder has launched her challenge with a reminder of the importance of the role of government in the daily lives of Americans. She endorses the Obama administration on stimulus spending and the health care overhaul.
Young said if both he and President Barack Obama win re-election, he is prepared to fight this time around after the first term's stimulus plan and "Obamacare."
"Every time the President has been given leeway on a big initiative, it's failed," Young said.
"I think we tried stimulus spending, kind of the Washington-centric model for economic development," Young continued. "It certainly has not worked. I think we should try empowering the American people by reducing the burden of taxation, reducing burdensome regulations, opening up foreign markets for American agricultural products and manufactured goods, all these common sensical things that people in Southern Indiana agree with."
The boundaries of the Ninth Congressional District have been redrawn since Young's 2010 victory. It is now a more centrally drawn and conservative district. Young's former GOP primary opponent, Travis Hankins, lives in the redrawn 6th Congressional District, sparing Young a primary challenger last month.
"Both parties have distinct visions at the national level in solving these problems," Young said. "Mine's a more conservative vision and this is a more conservative district. That puts us in good stead."