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The second-term incumbent in west central Indiana’s 4th Congressional District doesn’t have an average profile for a Hoosier politician. A decorated Vietnam War veteran, he is the only Republican with a Ph.D. on the House Science Committee.

Baird won a six-way Republican primary in 2018, upsetting favored candidate Steve Braun, whose brother, Mike Braun, was being elected to the Senate. Baird then got nearly two-thirds of the general election vote against Democrat Tobi Beck – a winning share that he matched in winning reelection in 2020.

Created when Indiana lost a congressional district after the 2000 census — and shifted to the north and west 10 years later — the modern 4th District has never elected a Democrat. Including all or part of 16 counties, it straddles the I-65 corridor between Indianapolis and Gary, spreading from the Illinois border in the west to Kokomo in the east. It includes Purdue, Wabash and DePauw universities as well as some of the richest farm ground in the state.

Baird, from Greencastle, embodies that heritage. He grew up on a family farm and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Purdue. He received a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam: He lost his left arm from injuries when North Vietnamese attacked a supply convoy he was leading in 1971.

Back in the U.S., Baird worked in the livestock industry and operated a family farm and a home health care business. He served a term as Putnam County commissioner, then spent four terms in the Indiana House, from 2010-18. He was elected to the open 4th District seat in 2018 after the incumbent, Todd Rokita, left for an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate.

Baird is a fiscal conservative who generally wins high marks from conservative organizations. Launching his campaign in 2018, he said, “President Trump needs reinforcements to pass his America First agenda and drain the swamp.” – Steve Hinnefeld