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Mark Stoops Seeking To Replace Vi Simpson In Indiana Senate

Monroe County Commissioner Mark Stoops Thursday became the first Democrat to officially declare his candidacy to replace Vi Simpson in the Indiana Senate.

Mark Stoops

Photo: Stan Jastrzebski/WFIU-WTIU News

Monroe County Commissioners President Mark Stoops is the first person to officially announce he's running to replace Vi Simpson as the Democratic nominee in State Senate District 40.

Mark Stoops sought to position himself Thursday as a liberal standard-bearer in the mold of Vi Simpson, who has been an outspoken critic of the Mitch Daniels administration while she’s been Senate Minority Leader.

Stoops, an outspoken critic of Interstate 69, says he would use a position in the state senate to dig into state documents relating to the planning and construction of the road.

“I would research, using my position as state senator the issues related to I-69,” Stoops says, adding he believes he would have more access to such documents as a state senator than he has as a Monroe County official.

During a 15-minute speech Stoops listed a wide range of issues he’d defend, from school funding to union rights to gay marriage. It was unclear if that last point was a shot at Bloomington State Rep. Peggy Welch, who many legislative analysts see as another possible entrant into the race.

After the speech, Stoops began to talk about Welch’s time and votes in the state House before cutting himself off and saying he would decided he did not want to talk about Welch, who is not officially in the race and has not said whether she will run. Still, the Monroe County Commission President went back to talking about Welch later in the conversation.

“I also feel that Peggy and the districts that Peggy has represented in the past, both her old one and the new redistricted district that Peggy is running for now are probably more closely aligned with Peggy’s views and philosophy.”

Stoops says he has already begun fundraising and attempting to tie up votes from Monroe County Democrats who will vote in the caucus. That vote will happen sometime after the Democratic state convention, where Simpson will be named as the party’s candidate for lieutenant governor.

After that, state party chairman Dan Parker will decide when to hold a vote among party insiders to determine who takes Simpson’s seat on the ballot against Republican Reid Dallas in the fall.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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