Indiana Democrats are pushing on the abortion issue once early voting begins

NDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana voters can begin voting in person early Wednesday for the Nov. 8 election, in which Democrats are looking for a backlash against the Republican-backed state abortion ban that was approved over the summer.

Republicans in the closest races are largely avoiding the abortion issue while emphasizing economic issues while trying to expand their dominance of state offices and the General Assembly.

US Republican Senator Todd Young is seeking re-election by following a pioneering strategy of largely ignoring Democratic challenger Thomas McDermott ahead of their only televised debate scheduled for Sunday.

Democrats, meanwhile, are targeting the Indiana Secretary of State race, in which former Mike Pence adviser Diego Morales won the Republican nomination despite twice quitting jobs in that office after being scolded for poor job performance.

Here’s a look at the top races on Indiana ballots:


Young joined the campaign with tremendous fundraising and organizational advantages over McDermott, who has been Mayor of Hammond, Indiana, since 2004 but is little known outside of Northwest Indiana.

FILE – Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., speaks during the Senate Armed Services and Senate Foreign Relations GOP press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, file)

Indiana’s Senate race hasn’t seen the tens of millions in external spending it attracted four years ago when Republican Mike Braun defeated Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly and in 2016 when Young won the Senate seat over former Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh.

Young avoided a primary challenge this year despite not fully embracing Donald Trump’s presidency — and not receiving a Trump endorsement. Young voted to acquit in his Senate impeachment trial but voted to uphold President Joe Biden’s election victory.

McDermott, an attorney and US Navy veteran, has sought to appeal to working-class voters attracted to Trump while also campaigning for congressional protection of abortion rights and the federal legalization of marijuana.

The lack of national groups spending money in the race, when Democrats and Republicans are bitterly fighting for control of the current 50-50 Senate, makes it difficult to view Young as vulnerable, even though the abortion issue is a wild card, Paul said Helmke, the former Republican mayor of Fort Wayne and the party’s 1998 candidate for the US Senate.

“It could be something that gives a little new spark to Democrats in the state,” said Helmke, now a professor of public affairs at Indiana University. “But whether that’s enough to overcome the strong Republican mindset is hard to say.”


Morales won the Republican nomination for Indiana’s top electoral office after outlining a push for tighter state voting restrictions and calling the 2020 presidential election a “fraud” while citing unsubstantiated claims Trump and his allies made about other states had.

Democrats have criticized Morales as an “election denier” and see a chance to defeat him, pointing out that he left his low-level secretary of state jobs in 2009 and 2011 following reports of work performance.

Morales returned to state government as an adviser to Pence’s governor’s staff until Pence became Trump’s vice president in 2017.

Democratic candidate Destiny Wells, an attorney and Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, says Morales is sowing fear and doubt about the election and the secretary of state should focus on alleviating Indiana’s low turnout problems. Libertarian Jeff Maurer, also taking part in the vote, advocates improved statewide paper versions of all ballots and independent audits of vote counts in all counties.


Republicans are seriously challenging Northwest Indiana’s congressional district, long a Democratic stronghold, for the first time in several decades.

Black US Air Force veteran Jennifer-Ruth Green is challenging Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan, who won his first term in 2020 in the 1st District, which nestles on Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline. Democrats have usually won there by a wide margin, but Trump closed the gap by appealing to working-class voters in the district, which is home to some of the country’s largest steel mills.

Green, who is a lieutenant colonel in the Indiana Air National Guard, touted herself as a Trump supporter during the Republican primary. Democrats have focused much of their criticism on their opposition to abortion rights.


Democrats are trying to win enough state legislature seats to break Republican supermajorities, which have left Democrats largely powerless against conservative proposals like the abortion ban blocked by a court order. Democrats must win five seats in the 100-seat House of Representatives needed to break the two-thirds majority that allows Republicans to act even when there are no Democrats present.

New borough maps taking effect with this election protect most current Republican lawmakers, but Democrats are targeting some Republican-held seats in the northern Indianapolis suburbs and the South Bend and Fort Wayne areas.

Democratic state Chairman Mike Schmuhl said the abortion ban was an example of “government overdoing it” stemming from decades of Republican lawmaking majority.

“I think that really crystallizes things for people,” Schmuhl said. “That something so personal, that should really be between a woman, her family, her faith, her doctor, is what makes Republican politicians step in front of these people and say, ‘Oh no, we’re going to make these decisions for you.'” Indiana Democrats are pushing on the abortion issue once early voting begins

Dais Johnston

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