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Brad Ellsworth

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 8th district
Assumed office 
January 3, 2007
Preceded by John Hostettler

Born September 11, 1958 (1958-09-11) (age 51)
Jasper, Indiana
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Beth Ellsworth
Residence Evansville, Indiana
Alma mater University of Southern Indiana
Occupation law enforcement
Religion Roman Catholic

John Bradley "Brad" Ellsworth[1] (born September 11, 1958) is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Indiana's 8th congressional district since 2007. The district is located in southwestern and west central Indiana, including the cities of Evansville and Terre Haute.

He defeated six-term Republican incumbent John Hostettler in the 2006 midterm elections.[2] Before his election, he served as the sheriff of Vanderburgh County.

On February 19, 2010, Ellsworth announced his candidacy in the 2010 U.S. Senate election for the seat in the United States Senate that is currently held by Democrat Evan Bayh, who will not be seeking re-election.[3]


Early life and education

Ellsworth was born in Jasper, Indiana and spent his early years in Huntingburg, Indiana. When he was still in grade school, his family moved to Evansville, where his father took a job as a crane operator in Warrick County's Alcoa plant. He is the youngest of four, his brothers Eric and Joe and his sister Lisa. His brother Eric is the president and CEO of the YMCA of greater Indianapolis.[2] His brother Joe is a founding partner and president of Fire & Rain Marketing/Communications headquartered in Evansville.

After graduation from William Henry Harrison High School in 1976, he attended Indiana State University-Evansville (now the University of Southern Indiana) where he received a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology, and was a Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternal member. Ellsworth worked in the paint and hardware department at Sears while in school to pay for his education. He later received a Masters Degree in Criminology from Indiana State University. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology also gave him an honorary doctorate of humane letters at their 2008 commencement.

Law enforcement

In 1982, Ellsworth began a career in the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Department. Over the next 23 years, he held every merit rank, and was twice decorated for heroism in the line of duty. While serving in the Department, Brad Ellsworth instituted the first Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program in the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation. He later attended and graduated from the FBI National Academy.

In 1998, Ellsworth ran for sheriff and won by a large margin. He was unopposed running for a second term. In 2005 he announced his intention to seek the Democratic Party's nomination for Indiana's 8th Congressional District, which was held by six-term incumbent John Hostettler.

U.S. House of Representatives

As of June 30, 2006, Hostettler had raised $287,000 and had $195,000 on hand, compared to Ellsworth's $1,036,000 raised and $676,000 on hand. However, Hostettler had won campaigns in the past against opponents with more funding. In addition, the National Republican Congressional Committee had spent $163,000 in his district as of mid-July 2006. (The DCCC, its counterpart, had spent $166,000 for Ellsworth as of that date.)[4][5]

The Cook Political Report, an independent non-partisan newsletter, listed the race as a toss-up as of mid-August.[6] As of early September, the Rothenberg Political Report called Hostettler one of the three most endangered House incumbents in the country; Chris Cillizza, political analyst for The Washington Post, ranked Hostettler as the most vulnerable House incumbent in the nation; and Robert D. Novak, a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report, also rated Hostettler's seat a likely win for Ellsworth.[7]

In mid-October, an opinion poll commissioned by the Evansville Courier & Press showed Ellsworth leading Hostettler, 55% to 32%.[8]

Hostettler debated Ellsworth on October 23, 2006. The debate was at public television station WVUT at Vincennes University, and involved the League of Women Voters.[9]

Ellsworth scored a landslide victory over Hostettler on November 7, 2006. He took 61% of the vote to Hostettler's 39% – by far the most lopsided defeat for an incumbent in the 2006 election.[2] Ellsworth's victory was the first of 30 seats that the Democrats took from the Republicans in the cycle.

Two years later, on November 4, 2008, Ellsworth won reelection, easily defeating Republican candidate Greg Goode 65% to 35%.

Ellsworth was voted the most beautiful person on Capitol Hill in 2007 by a survey conducted by publication The Hill.[10]

Committee assignments

Issues and positions

After his election to Congress, he joined the Blue Dog Coalition. He has become close friends with Heath Shuler, a fellow conservative freshman Democrat from North Carolina.[11]

He was one of 16 Democrats who voted against providing federal funds for embryonic stem cell research.[12]

Ellsworth was one of 10 pro-life House Democrats who wrote a letter condemning the National Right to Life Committee for not supporting the extension of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover more families. While Ellsworth voted against an earlier version of the bill, he joined the other nine signatories in voting for the final bill.[13]

Ellsworth voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 in January of that year.[14]

In November 2009, Elsworth wrote an amendment restricting federal funding for elective abortions. Americans United for Life asserted that this language does not eliminate the public funding of abortion in the House bill, but instead only requires said federal subsidies to be separately disbursed by an independent contractor.[15] Ellsworth later voted for the Stupak Amendment.


In July 2007, Ellsworth designated $2 million to extend the John T. Myers lock chamber on the Ohio River and $750,000 for manufacturing and engineering equipment for the University of Southern Indiana. He also nabbed two projects: the construction of a campus perimeter road system at USI for $350,000 and a portion of University Parkway construction also at $350,000.

Smaller projects for which Ellsworth gained House approval include $200,000 to restore Evansville's Alhambra Theater, $135,000 for emergency warning sirens in Vanderburgh County and $75,000 to train utility workers at Ivy Tech Community College. [16]


  1. ^ "2007 Financial Disclosure Statement". The Washington Post. 2007-05-07. 
  2. ^ a b c "Democrats pick up key House seat in Indiana". CNN. 2006-11-07. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Thomas B. Langhorne, "Hostettler 'war chest' a little light, pundit says", Evansville Courier & Press, July 17, 2006
  5. ^ Maureen Groppe, "Indiana candidates raise big bucks for tight races: $1 million or more in war chest isn't unusual this competitive year, finance reports show", Indianapolis Star, July 18, 2006
  6. ^ Competitive Race Chart, Cook Political Report, August 16, 2006
  7. ^ Thomas B. Langhorne, "Hostettler inactivity curious", Evansville Courier & Press", September 3, 2006
  8. ^ Thomas B. Langhorne, "Ellsworth widens lead in poll: ISU questions likely voters in 8th District follow-up survey", Evansville Courier & Press", October 15, 2006
  9. ^ "Hostettler agrees to debate date", Evansville Courier & Press", August 30, 2006
  10. ^ Rothstein, Betsy (08/01/07). "50 Most Beautiful fallout: Rep. Ellsworth’s mom questions her son’s placement on list". The Hill. Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 20". Office of the Clerk. U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved 2007-02-20. 
  13. ^ - Dems lash out at activist group on abortion issue
  14. ^
  15. ^ Americans United for Life: Rep. Ellsworth’s Proposal Does Not Prevent Abortion Funding in Health Care Reform. November 5, 2009. Accessed November 7, 2009.
  16. ^ Langhorne, Thomas B., "Is pork Protecting Ellsworth?" Evansville Courier and Press, July 29. 2007.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Hostettler
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 8th congressional district

2007-01-03 – present

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