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Indiana isn't a battleground state. But national Dems want to help break GOP supermajority

Indianapolis Star

The state Democratic Party will be getting some help from Washington D.C. in its effort to break the Republican supermajority at the Indiana Statehouse.

The Democratic National Committee told IndyStar it is investing nearly $70,000 to help the state party's goal of flipping at least four open House seats this year, with a particular focus on Central Indiana.

鈥淭he DNC is committed to re-electing President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and, as President Biden has made clear since his inauguration, Democrats must also win up and down the ballot and strengthen organizing across all fifty states,鈥澛爏aid DNC Chair Jaime Harrison.聽鈥淭oday鈥檚 announced investment in the Indiana State Democratic Party shows that priority in action."

More:As Central Indiana's suburbs grow, Democrats see an opportunity in November elections

With their 30 members in a 100-member House, Indiana Democrats don't have the power to stop legislation, even if some Republicans break with their party ranks. House Democrats are hoping at least four more seats could change that dynamic in the House.

Breaking the Republican supermajority in the Senate, where Democrats only hold 10 of 50 seats, would be more challenging.

State party officials and Democratic candidates have been traveling the state this spring and summer in what they call a "Break聽the聽Supermajority聽Tour," which has included town halls with potential voters in Fort Wayne, West Lafayette and Carmel.

The money from the DNC will go toward voter database technology and supporting organizing staff in Central Indiana, where some open seats are.

These include seats being vacated by retiring Reps. Jerry Torr and Donna Schaibley, Republicans from Carmel; and state Reps. Chuck Goodrich, R-Noblesville, and Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis, who both opted to run for Congress. A total of eight Statehouse incumbents are not seeking reelection this year.

The DNC says it has been ramping up its annual investment in state parties by 25% each year, with a round of investments this year being the largest in DNC history. Since the midterm elections in 2022, the DNC has invested more than $500,000 in Indiana.

This round of funding is supporting Democratic parties in states that are not traditionally "battleground" states. Other red states receiving funding include Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas and Utah.

"There's no secret that the presidential campaigns don't compete here really. They don't need our electoral votes," Schmuhl said. "I have heard from candidates and party faithfuls over the years that wish the national party would do more. This is a sign that the national party is doing more."

The state party believes this is a near-term, attainable strategy toward its longterm goal of bringing more political balance to the statehouse. Democrats haven't elected a statewide candidate since Sen. Joe Donnelly in 2012.

"It is my firm belief that our state legislators are the backbone of our political parties," said caucus director Megan Ruddie. "When we talk about change in our politics, it starts with these state legislative seats."

Breaking the supermajority won't be easy. In addition to flipping four House seats, Democrats would need to fend off challenges to incumbents in potentially competitive districts. That includes Democratic Rep. Victoria Garcia Wilburn, whose district covers parts of Carmel, Fishers and northern Marion County; and Democratic Rep. Wendy Dant Chesser, who was recently chosen by a caucus of Democrats to represent the Jeffersonville area.

Ruddie draws encouragement from the national political climate, in which the Republican party is splintering over the reign of Donald Trump's politics. While some political observers say one shouldn't read into former presidential candidate Nikki Haley's showing in Indiana during the primary, others think it's a bellwether of dissatisfaction with Trump that could affect down-ballot races. (Haley won 22% of the vote statewide, and 34% in Hamilton County, despite having withdrawn from the race.)

"I do not think the ballot Republicans built on primary day is appealing to the majority of Hoosiers," Ruddie said. "I think Niki Haley voters screamed that loud and clear."

The election is Nov. 5.

Contact IndyStar state government and politics reporter Kayla Dwyer at聽kdwyer@indystar.com聽or follow her on X: