GARY — Northwest Indiana Democratic candidates are optimistic that strict limits on abortion access enacted by Statehouse Republicans and GOP indifference to the real needs of Hoosiers will propel Democrats to victories up and down the ballot at the Nov. 8 general election.
That message was enthusiastically received Thursday night by some five dozen Region union members, party leaders and campaign workers during a post-Labor Day rally at the United Steelworkers’ McBride Union Hall in Gary.
Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Thomas McDermott Jr., the five-term mayor of Hammond, said women voters in Northwest Indiana and across the state have an opportunity to make clear in this election they will not stand for Republican men taking away their reproductive rights.
“This is the year of the woman,” McDermott said. “Ladies, when I get elected your U.S. senator, and when I end up in Washington, D.C., in the U.S. Senate, I’ll know why I’m there. I’ll know how I got there. Not because of my charming personality. It’s because women got me elected.”
“And I want you to know this, I’m going to fight so hard for you I should put a ‘W’ (for women) behind my name, instead of a ‘D’ (for Democratic),” he added. “It takes two people to make a baby and only one sex is being penalized right now, and it’s not fair what’s going on in America.”
McDermott pledged to codify the abortion rights previously guaranteed by U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling prior to the high court rescinding that decision June 24, which opened the door for Indiana’s Republican-controlled General Assembly to approve a near-total abortion ban that takes effect across the state Thursday.
He also promised to do better than incumbent U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., at creating new jobs and protecting organized labor, reducing the price of insulin and other prescription drugs, taking steps to legalize cannabis and ensuring veterans receive all the benefits to which they are entitled.
“You can’t tell the working men and women of Indiana that you’re pro-labor and then you go to Washington, D.C. and you vote against an $8 billion (for Indiana) infrastructure package. It doesn’t jive. You know, Todd Young, my opponent, thinks we’re stupid,” McDermott said. “He thinks he thinks he can tell veterans, ‘I’m a veteran, I’m with you,’ and then he votes against veterans that are exposed to burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s doublespeak. People are sick of that stuff.”
“Why are we sending you to Washington, D.C., if you’re just going to go there to fight with the president? We don’t need that. We need people that are going to bring money home and bring jobs home and bring economic development home,” he added.
That message appears to be resonating with Hoosiers. A Change Research survey of 2,111 likely Indiana voters conducted between Aug. 20-24 on behalf of the McDermott campaign found Young only leading McDermott, 45% to 42%, with 13% undecided and a 2.6% margin of error.
Focus on Statehouse
Democrats declared that the need for change also extends to Indianapolis where state Sen. Michael Griffin, D-Highland, state Rep. Mike Andrade, D-Munster, and state Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, said the Republican House and Senate supermajorities are hoarding taxpayer dollars and ignoring the needs of Hoosier communities.
“If you look at our budget, that tells you what we care about, and we ought to be doing what you care about,” Griffin said. “Government that’s responsive; schools that are successful; students that learn; teachers that feel professional gratification because they’re respected, compensated well and get to teach; roads that are well-kept; air that’s clean to breathe; water that’s drinkable.”
Andrade said the Democratic Party always has advocated for the people, instead of the powerful, and it’s long past time for Hoosiers to flip Indiana from Republican red to Democratic blue.
“The supermajority continues to fight against us, continues to want to bring everyone down. They don’t care about the Black and brown community, they don’t care about our women, they don’t care about us succeeding,” Andrade said. “But I tell you what, we’re going to stand up because enough is enough.”
Former state Rep. Lisa Beck, D-Crown Point, who is running to reclaim her old seat in House District 19, said there’s seemingly no limit to GOP hypocrisy when Republicans talk about freedom but act to ban library books, criminalize teachers, strip women of their rights and ignore police warnings about the dangers of permitless handgun carry in public places.
GlenEva Dunham, a Gary school teacher and vice president of the American Federation of Teachers, echoed those sentiments by pointing out that Republicans dragged their feet and ultimately voted against the funding needed to reopen and rehabilitate schools across the country following the COVID-19 pandemic though didn’t hesitate to severely limit abortion access as soon as the Supreme Court gave them the green light.
“To the women, as we go to the polls on Nov. 8 in record numbers, we will say to the male extremists: Our bodies, our choice; My body, my choice,” Dunham said. “This is the slogan I’m going to the polls with — we brought you into this world, and we will vote you out.”
Indeed, women comprise the entirety of the statewide Democratic ticket, except for McDermott, including Destiny Wells for secretary of state, ZeNai Brooks for state auditor and Jessica McClellan for state treasurer.
McClellan, the two-term elected treasurer in Monroe County, told the audience in Gary that trio of experienced Democratic women is prepared and ready to check the power of Statehouse Republicans and to genuinely look out for the needs of Hoosiers.
“We care about the programs that are not being funded while that $6 billion surplus sits there. We care about funding teachers and unions. We care about bringing those dismal health metrics across our state up and we care about having clean air and cleaning up our rivers and streams,” McClellan said.
Meet the 2022 Northwest Indiana legislative delegation