Hoosier Legislator?

The 2022 midterm election will take place on Nov. 8. Photo courtesy of unsplash.com.

ALLIE MCKIBBEN | STAFF REPORTER | amckibben@butler.edu

Election day is just weeks away, and this midterm has been gearing up to be a set of intriguing political races within the state of Indiana that will shape future Hoosier policies. 

Indiana representative for U.S. Senate 

Indiana’s race for the United States Senate centers around two candidates with very similar backgrounds, yet dramatically different platforms and strategies to win constituents’ votes. 

Todd Young, the incumbent candidate for the Republican party, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who spent his time out of the Navy working as a management consultant for various organizations until he was elected as senator in 2016. 

His platform revolves around mending issues he believes Washington politicians and the Biden administration have exacerbated, such as inflation, illegal immigration and the border between the U.S. and Mexico. 

Young’s campaign also draws constituents’ attention to the legislation he promoted during his time in office, such as the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors — CHIPS — for America Act, which is a bipartisan bill that aims to increase semiconductor production throughout the country. 

Tom McDermott, Young’s opponent and candidate for the Democratic party, was also in the Marine Corps, whereafter he earned a law degree and started his own practice. In 2004, he became the mayor of Hammond, Indiana. 

McDermott’s platform is hyper-focused on expanding Indiana citizens’ rights. He aims to codify Roe v. Wade, which establishes right to abortion, and legalize recreational cannabis. Like Young, he also criticizes D.C. politicians, and says he’ll fight for Hoosiers and not lobbyists. 

The two candidates have some overlap of values as well, such as prioritizing veterans and uniting Republicans and Democrats to pass legislation. However, the way they portray themselves through commercials, interviews and debates is very different.  

McDermott uses unexpected methods to attract media and voter attention. He challenged Young to a boxing match, and his blunt slogan, “All Hoosier. No Bullshit,” is bolded on the front of his website. He is even shown smoking cannabis in his ad that supports its legalization.

McDermott continues to surprise voters with the media he puts out. Abi Jacobs, a junior political science major, came across a podcast by McDermott called “Left of Center.” 

“I saw that McDermott had a podcast, which I thought was really interesting,” Jacobs said. “He talks to a lot of local elected officials, which I don’t know a lot about, just because there’s not a lot of publicity for them.” 

He is also unafraid to call out Young on the debate stage. McDermott confronted his opponent several times during the Senate debate on Oct. 16, especially when discussing Young’s financial strategy.

WFYI cites, “‘When Senator Young supports spending, that’s good inflation,’ McDermott said. ‘But when Sen. Young doesn’t support it, that’s bad inflation.’” 

Young, however, seems unfazed by these confronts and usually taunts back. When McDermott accused him of voting against capping the price for insulin, Young turned it back onto him, claiming McDermott’s statement was false.

“It’s either because one of my opponents is misinformed, or it’s because they are intentionally distorting [my record to] Hoosiers,” Young said in the debate. “Either way, it doesn’t seem to instill trust.” 

Ryan Crnarich, a senior political science and history combined major, has been working for Young’s re-election campaign for about a year and has witnessed his composure. 

“I think Senator Young has been trying to have sort of a common, senatorial type of approach that makes sense to his campaign,” Crnarich said. “He has been calm, professional, things like that.”

Young will, however, continue to attack Biden – where McDermott criticizes him during debates, Young continuously criticizes Washington politicians throughout the media he publishes. The ads depict the Mexico-U.S. border wall in crisis, one of which stresses the results of what he deems as “failed leadership.” 

“Drugs. Guns. Human trafficking. Make no mistake, Joe Biden is responsible.” Young said in his ad “Borderline.”

The latest poll from Indy Politics depicts a tight race, with Young at 39% favorability, McDermott at 37% favorability, and Independent candidate James Sceniak at 6% favorability. 

In order for Republicans to take control of Congress this year, it is critical for incumbents such as Young to keep their seats. 

“Well, certainly control of the Senate is up in the air right now,” Crnarich said. “I think everyone would agree on that. So I think, for Republicans to hold Indiana, [the election] will certainly be important.”

Jacobs agrees with Crnarich on the importance of the election, and points out the implications of a Democratic majority. 

“If the majority of people in the Senate are anti-filibuster and pro-abortion, Democrats can get abortion legislation passed … along with other rights that have been put into danger by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Jacobs said.

The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade has made the topics of abortion and other personal liberties at the center of many Democrats’ campaigns, like McDermott’s. In turn, Democrats hope that they will attract more voters, seeing as they are vowing to protect liberties the court might rescind from. William Blomquist, an adjunct professor of political science at Butler, said voters across the country may be swayed by this issue, potentially favoring Democrats in the election.

“If anybody’s predicting this race, you’d predict Young wins re-election,” Bloomquist said. “ … If Tom Dermott wins the U.S. Senate seat in Indiana, you can therefore expect that Democrats are going to do very well all night all the way across the country — because what it would mean was that abortion issue or those sort of personal liberty issues were motivating enough to knock off an incumbent senator running for reelection in Republican Indiana. So, the McDermott victory would be important and signal that maybe there’s something really unexpected going to happen on election night.” 

Indiana Secretary of State 

Unlike the U.S. Senate race, the Indiana Secretary of State candidates from the two main parties, Diego Morales and Destiney Wells, have one topic on their minds: elections. 

“The Secretary of State is super involved and important to the election process,” Jacobs said. “So both of [the candidates] are campaigning on the idea that we need to make sure our elections are safe.” 

Diego Morales is the Republican candidate. He earned his master’s in business administration and then served in the Army. He served as an aide in the Secretary of State’s office, Lieutenant Governor’s office and as a top aide to Mike Pence when he was governor of Indiana. 

His platform focuses on election security and protecting the integrity of elections. Citing the 2020 presidential election as “tainted,” Morales wants to crack down on the distribution of absentee ballots and add another proof of identification to protect the state of Indiana from fraud. 

The Democratic candidate is Destiny Wells, a lawyer and entrepreneur who is presently serving in the military. She is an Army Reserve Lt. Colonel in Military Intelligence and served in Afghanistan for 19 years.

Where Morales wants to place more restrictions on accessing ballots, Wells wants to do the opposite. She aims to expand the time absentee ballots would be valid and make the voting process simpler and more accessible for Indiana residents.

The race for Secretary of State has gotten more press than in previous years, as Morales has been swarmed with controversy, such as two sexual assault allegations filed against him — to which he has denied — and the fact that he has been dismissed from a previous government job for “poor performance.” There are also questions surrounding his army service. The Indiana Capital Chronicle interviewed Mike Hicks, a retired infantry who served in the Army Reserves, who described the differences between the two candidates’ time in the army. 

“[Morales] enlisted for eight years and failed to meet the service obligation and failed to get promoted during that time and was eventually let go,” Hicks said in the article. “[Wells] went from private to Lt. Col. at nearly record pace and, even after getting her graduate degree in law, remained an intelligence officer, volunteered to go overseas and serve and was selected repeatedly by promotion boards for higher positions of responsibility.” 

This press on Morales has detracted attention away from any other candidate in the running for Secretary of State. Blomquist recognized this phenomenon when Morales was absent during the candidates’ most recent and only debate. 

“The most attention they got was last week, when [Wells and Mauer] showed up for the one and only Secretary of State’s debate,” Blomquist said. “Even that news media coverage wasn’t as much about them as the fact that Diego Morales wasn’t there, and about what they had to say about Diego Morales in his absence. So he’s just managed to be the attractor for almost all of the coverage in this race, even when he doesn’t show up; the fact that he didn’t show up becomes the story.” 

In the long run, however, the lack of media attention could work out for Wells, as polling shows that it will be a tight race. The latest poll from Indy Politics shows Wells at 39%, Morales at 37% and libertarian candidate Jeff Mauer at 7%. With the negative attention Morales is getting, Blomquist thinks it’s possible for Republicans to shy away from him and vote for another candidate. 

“It’s another thing for Republican voters to go all the way across and vote for a Democrat,” Blomquist said. “Republican voters in Indiana, who may have heard about Mr. Morales, over the course of the last four months and developed some concerns about him, may not be willing to just go all the way over to Ms. Wells … But they might be willing to vote libertarian as a sort of in between, so Mr. Mauer could do very well.” 

Blomquist doesn’t think Mauer would win, but he thinks Mauer will help even out the number of votes each candidate gets. 

“This one, honestly, Morales could win,” Blomquist said. “Wells could win. It could go either way.”

Jacobs agrees, and points out that Wells’s chance to win isn’t just due to Morales’s bad press.

“[The close election] is really interesting considering she’s a Democratic candidate in a very Republican state,” Jacobs said. “She’s also out-fundraised the Republican candidate, and she has more individual donations.”

Jacobs also highlights that this race’s center issue of voting isn’t random, but a hot-button topic considering the last presidential election.

“Up until recently, Secretary of State races have been very overlooked,” Jacobs said “But what happened with the 2020 election … it really brought a lot of attention to the Secretary of State races because they are such an important process in local and state elections.” 

Crnarich said through this election, voters get the chance to decide how Hoosier elections will run in the future. 

“I think whoever wins this race, Hoosiers are gonna see a change and how they cast their ballot and a way the expansion of the system, or the security of the system, [depending on how you view it] is only going to change with whoever wins,” Crnarich said.


Related posts