How long she'll continue to serve depends not just on voters, but on her health.
She had double bypass heart surgery before taking office and was sworn in while still hospitalized. She has high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes and took a one-week leave of absence from her congressional duties in 2003 for what she called routine medical appointments. She missed dozens of votes in 2004, saying she felt bad and had no energy.
[Brian] Vargus said some local Democrats had considered challenging her in the May primary, but they "mysteriously disappeared." He predicted Democrats will urge Carson to make this her "swan song" term if she wins re-election.
Carson has said she would quit serving if she were too ill.
"People thought I was too sick to run," she said when announcing her re-election bid in January. "I'm not too sick for anything."
Smith discusses Carson's penchant for running dirty campaigns against her opponent. Smith writes:
Her approach sometimes rankles those on the receiving end.
Mike Murphy, chairman of the Marion County Republican Party, said Carson has galvanized many voters by "trumping up" reasons to portray herself as a victim shortly before elections. In 2002, he noted, she walked out of a debate with Republican Brose McVey, saying he was running an unfair campaign and accusing her white challenger of "racial polarization" in some of his ads.
McVey later characterized Carson's remarks as a "staged act of righteous indignation, not warranted by reality."
Carson recently went on the attack against Dickerson when she told The Indianapolis Star's editorial board that he had been arrested for allegedly beating his wife 15 years ago. Her challenger, Carson claimed, has "been running as Mr. Righteous, Mr. Righteous, when in fact, he beat his wife up to a pulp."
Dickerson, not to be confused with the former NFL running back, denied hitting his wife. Preliminary charges of battery and disorderly conduct were dropped after his wife and daughter declined to testify.
Carson had promised her Republican challenger Eric Dickerson she would run a clean campaign, but she was the first to sling mud in the race. Smith writes:
Dickerson said the congresswoman told him on three separate occasions that she hoped he would keep the race clean.
"I said, `Julia, the only reason this race gets dirty is if you take it there,'" he said. "But she did." [State Rep. Bill] Crawford, a longtime friend, concedes Carson can ruffle feathers.
"Those who dislike her dislike her intensely, and those who like her like her passionately, and there is no in-between," he said.
It's good that at least one mainstream reporter is beginning to ask some of the tough questions about Carson, even if she won't make herself available to the news media or the public to answer questions and answer doubts in many people's mind that she simply is no longer physically up to the challenge of serving in Congress. The fact that most of the media has chosen to ignore her serious health problems is a disservice to the 7th District voters. To re-elect someone to Congress who is not physically up to the challenge because of serious health problems is tantamount to denying representation to the people of the 7th District.
UPDATE: The 7th District candidates have been invited to appear jointly at a "candidates presentation" this Sunday at 7:00 p.m. at the Robin Run Retirement Village at 5354 W. 62nd Street, Indianapolis. Dickerson's campaign says he will be there. Let's see if Rep. Carson shows up. The event's organizer, Connie Wick, emphasizes in a press release that it will not be conducted as a debate but rather as an opportunity for the candidates to discuss their "background and goals."