Democrats gather to build momentum before election

GREENFIELD — Indiana Democrats are preparing for 2018’s midterm election by spreading the word about what the party stands for.

State Democratic leaders hope by sharing the party’s principles, they can encourage residents across the Hoosier state to not only cast their vote for Democrats in key positions but also to step up and run for office in positions from trustees to Congress.

Indiana State Democrat Party chair John Zody shared the party’s 92-county strategy during Saturday’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, an annual fundraiser dinner conducted by the Hancock County Democratic Party. About 75 Hancock County Democrats attended the event at NineStar Connect, where Zody, the keynote speaker, was joined by Rep. Carey Hamilton of House District 87 and three people aiming for the Democratic nomination for the 6th District Congressional seat.

The state Democratic party’s aim is to share its beliefs and recruit candidates to carry that message, Zody said. He focused on the issues of fair wages, early childhood education and healthcare.

“This is the year we can try new things,” he said, adding that making connections with voters can come from knocking on doors or reaching out through social media.

He mentioned being in Valparaiso, where a resident asked him why they should stay in Indiana instead of moving to a more liberal state, he said. He encouraged the person to stay, because nothing will change if progressive-minded people flee, he said.

It’s frustrating when people say Indiana Democrats don’t have a message, Zody said.

Hancock County Democratic Party chair Randy Johnson acknowledged while Democrats are the minority party in the county, he’s been encouraged by fresh faces planning to run for local office.

“I’m proud of the people stepping up,” he said. “2018 is getting closer and closer, and we’re concerned about what’s going on at the state level.”

Three candidates for the 6th district congressional seat introduced themselves to the crowd at Saturday’s event.

Muncie resident Jeannine Lee Lake was inspired to run for Congress because she felt like politicians don’t seem to understand people in her community and their needs.

Lake is the fundraising chair of Feed My Sheep Muncie, an organization that provides a Thanksgiving meal to some 1,500 people every year. Through that organization, she’s seen Hoosiers having to make tough choices, she said.

“I want to go to Congress and work hard,” she said. “I want to work on those problems.”

Mimi Pruett of Greensburg spoke on behalf of her husband, Jim Pruett, an attorney running for the 6th District congressional seat.

Pruett believes Democrats must work together with other political parties to help bring fair wages to Americans and stop the shrinking middle class, Mimi Pruett said.

Pruett aims to bring about a transformation to energy efficiency to help resolve climate issues the country faces, she added.

Attorney Lane Siekman of Rising Sun, also aiming for the congressional seat, supports a “Medicare-for-all” health care system; he said most other industrialized countries have been able to put something into place, and America ought to follow suit.

The discussion about healthcare resonated with Johnson, who became emotional while describing the hardships of several family members facing chronic illness as well as accidents.

“We need to do something about insurance,” he said. “That’s a fight worth having.”

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or