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IU faculty member announces bid for Democratic nomination in 9th District

Isakntiasare

(Mitch Legan WFIU/WTIU)

IU faculty member Isak Nti Asare announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Indiana’s 9th congressional district earlier this month. If elected, Nti Asare would be the first Black representative of the district.

Nti Asare is the associate director of the Cybersecurity and Global Policy Program at Indiana University’s school of global and international studies. 

He’s focusing on healthcare, a digital bill of rights and a human-centered approach to the economy in his bid to unseat incumbent Trey Hollingsworth 

When he was 28 years old, Nti Asare said, he was diagnosed with leukemia. A social worker came in and asked how he was going to pay for it. 

“I just don't think that any American should ever have to feel that way, and I think that in the midst of a global pandemic -- where, you know, 800,000-plus Americans have died, and we live in a district where 50,000 people don't have health insurance -- that, you know, we need to be doing better,” he said Friday. 

Nti Asare hasn’t previously run for elected office but said he had worked in policy circles before. He’s worked with national and local governments around the world on emerging technology and artificial intelligence. He also wrote the first city-led AI strategy in the United States and has given advice to members of Congress on bills about emerging technology. 

After his diagnosis, Nti Asare said he had to navigate the healthcare system, pay bills and deal with the difficulties of finding a specialist in southern Indiana.

“So not only do I have the professional experiences in this policy sphere but the personal lived experiences that I think are very similar to so many people in this district,” he said. 

Nti Asare also wants a digital bill of rights and thinks elected officials should focus on how the concept of privacy has changed in a digital era.

“We should be able to have agency and then to protect our basic rights, things like privacy online. And that needs to be somehow enshrined in law regulation,” he said. 

Nti Asare also said the economy should balance people, planet and profits.  And he’s critical of comments Rep. Trey Hollingsworth made in 2020 about restarting the economy. Nti Asare says it’s more important to ensure Americans stay home to prevent more deaths from COVID-19.

In April 2020, Hollingsworth told Indianapolis’ WIBC he believed the American way of life had to be prioritized over potential loss of life.

“Both of these decisions will lead to harm for individuals, whether that’s dramatic economic harm or whether it’s loss of life. But it’s always the American government’s position to say, in the choice between the loss of our way of life as Americans and the loss of life of American lives, we have to always choose the latter.” 

Nti Asare said, “But I think that we have to flip that model, because without American life, there is no American way of life.”

Hollingsworth’s office didn’t immediately respond to inquiries Friday afternoon. 

Hollingsworth received criticism at the time for his comments, and told IndyStar that he was trying to make a more nuanced argument about elected officials having to make tough decisions during the pandemic.

Nti Asare said he hopes hopes to start dialogues across party lines and socioeconomic classes. And he said his campaign includes volunteers from all walks of life—far-left Democrats as well as those who have traditionally identified as Republican. 

“We want to build a coalition of Hoosiers that are willing to work together to change this district,” he said.

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