IT STARTED WITH AN ANNOUNCEMENT THAT ROCKED THE POLITICAL WORLD.
Mark Souder: "I will resign..."
JUST DAYS AFTER HANDILY WINNING THE PRIMARY, LONGTIME REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN MARK SOUDER ADMITTED TO AN AFFAIR WITH A MARRIED STAFFER.
IRONIC -- SINCE HE AND THE AIDE, TRACY JACKSON, HAD APPEARED IN A VIDEO TOGETHER DISCUSSING SEXUAL ABSTINENCE.
Nats up: " "
SOUDER RESIGNED DAYS LATER.
LEAVING HIS SEAT EMPTY.
AND THROWING A WRENCH IN THE CAMPAIGN.
Tom Hayhurst: "I thought the whole sequence of events was sad."
TOM HAYHURST WAS GETTING READY TO FACE SOUDER FOR THE SECOND TIME IN FOUR YEARS, AFTER LOSING TO THE FAMILY-VALUES CONSERVATIVE IN 2006.
Tom Hayhurst: "It seems like the people who spend the most time telling us how we should live our lives are the ones more likely to have events of this type happen to them."
SOUDER'S RESIGNATION CHANGED EVERYTHING -- FOR HAYHURST, AND FOR REPUBLICANS.
ALL OF A SUDDEN, THE G-O-P NEEDED A NEW CANDIDATE.
AND FIFTEEN REPUBLICANS JUMPED INTO THE RACE.
POLITICAL ANALYST ANDREW
Andrew Downs: "A lot of people said, this is my chance. This is the easy way to do it."
ONE OF THE CANDIDATES HAD JUST COME FROM THE U-S SENATE RACE -- STATE SENATOR MARLIN STUTZMAN, A FORMER AIDE TO SOUDER.
DESPITE LOSING THE SENATE RACE, STUTZMAN GOT HIS NAME OUT THERE.
Marlin Stutzman: "That was a huge advantage for us."
AND IT PAID OFF.
AFTER THE FIRST BALLOT AT THE PARTY'S CAUCUS, STUTZMAN WAS JUST VOTES AWAY FROM CLINCHING IT OUTRIGHT.
Marlin Stutzman: "Pretty comfortable at that point! (Laughs) I didn't expect that."
STUTZMAN BECAME THE NOMINEE, BUT WITH LESS THAN FOUR MONTHS BEFORE THE ELECTION.
HIS OPPONENT HAD ALREADY BEEN RAISING MONEY FOR MONTHS.
Marlin Stutzman: "We were at a disadvantage. We ran this like we were the underdog."
Daniel Woodruff: "But despite Stutzman's late start, an early poll showed him with a commanding lead. And with the political winds favoring Republicans, it's made it easy for Stutzman to take a less aggressive approach in public."
Andrew Downs: "I think they saw that in the poll that things were going well. So they can play a conservative game of 'make no errors.'"
HAYHURST, ON THE OTHER HAND, HAS KEPT AN AGGRESSIVE APPROACH IN THE MEDIA.
CRITICIZING HIS OPPONENT ON SEVERAL POSITIONS.
AND CAMPAIGNING AS AN INDEPENDENT DEMOCRAT.
Tom Hayhurst: "It's easy to be independent when you're not going to spend 20 years in Congress. That's not clear with regard to Mr. Stutzman."
BUT BEING INDEPENDENT MAY ALSO BE GOOD POLITICS.
Andrew Downs: "He's really trying to express independence because it's not a good year for a Democrat, especially in a conservative district."
BOTH CANDIDATES CLAIM THE POLLS FAVOR THEM.
BUT IN THE END, VOTERS WILL DECIDE WHO WILL FILL THE SEAT MARRED BY SCANDAL -- AND THE DOWNFALL OF A POWERFUL LAWMAKER.