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With Republicans Running Unopposed, Dems Recruit to Beat Deadline

Few Bartholomew County Democrats are running for seats up for grabs this November. This has inspired a special recruitment committee to field Dem. candidates.

Bartholomew County Government Offices

Photo: Daniel Robison/ WFIU

With a history of losing in Bartholomew County, Democrats are trying a new initiative to have more of a presence in county government.

A tiny contingent of Bartholomew County Democrats are running for seats up for grabs this November. With a February 19th filing deadline approaching to enter May’s primary elections, Republicans are currently running unopposed for more than a dozen local offices.

But this week, county Democrats formed a committee specializing in candidate recruitment and training. The group will try to reverse the party’s luck, despite an inhospitable local and national climate.

With many analysts predicting a Republican tide in November’s elections, Jesse Hill admits launching a Democratic initiative will be difficult. She’s acting Chairwoman of the Bartholomew County Democratic Party.

Still, Hill insists she’s optimistic about her party’s future in the heavily-conservative county, which features almost no Democrats elected to countywide offices. Hill says she hopes the committee encourages some closet Democrats to throw their hats in the ring, despite the odds.

“Since we live in Bartholomew County, and it’s very Republican, some folks, who want to run for office, don’t. Because it’s hard to be elected as a Democrat in Bartholomew County,” Hill said.

But she says party loyalty has become a question.

“We have had some folks who have voted Democrats who have switched over to the Republican Party because they wanted in office and the way to get there is to become a Republican,” Hill said.

The search committee includes Columbus Community Development Director Judy Jackson and Tracy Hamilton Souza, who is former Congressman Lee Hamilton’s daughter.

With such a small time window to find candidates for this year, the committee is also seeking candidates for Columbus’s 2011 city elections, which includes a wide open mayor’s race after the announced retirement of four-term Democrat Fred Armstrong.

“It might not be fruitful this year. But it will grow. And it will become fruitful,” she said.

Hill was reluctant to mention any potential candidates, since none of them have filed official election papers.

Daniel Robison

Daniel started as WFIU's Assistant News Director in July 2008. He graduated with a B.A. in history in 2007 and earned an M.A. in journalism two years later. Daniel hosts Ask the Mayor weekly and the occasional Noon Edition. He also hosts Morning Edition on Thursdays, sleepily. Daniel's beats include everything News Director Stan Jastrzebski wants him to cover. And it feels strange to type biography of myself in the third person like this. So that's that.

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