Dan Burton has made his reputation over nearly three decades in Congress as a fierce partisan who led Republican investigations of the Clinton administration and has taken on lonely causes such as the disputed link between mercury in vaccines and autism.
But he's getting little respect from a crowd of primary challengers who say he's a Washington gadfly and mock him as a useless appendix.
To them, and some voters, Burton's time has come — and gone.
"He's a fine man, but he's been there too long," said Jim Peacock, 68, of Carmel who is a partner in a casket making company. "We need fresh bodies, fresh thinking and not tenured politicians."
Burton, 71, faces six challengers in Indiana's May 4 primary, an unprecedented test for the congressman who's been in Washington since 1982.
Republicans looking ahead to November expect to keep the seat, long considered one of the nation's safest for the GOP. But whether Burton is in it for a 15th term could depend on voter fatigue with longtime politicians and whether the crowded primary field dilutes the anti-Burton vote in the district that covers suburban Indianapolis and stretches north to several rural counties around Kokomo and Marion.
Burton's blogroll includes links to Adventures in Autism and The Age of Autism