My Endorsement

This post is mostly for readers who live in Indiana’s 5th District–or anyone who has friends and/or families who vote in Indiana’s Fifth. The primary election, which was postponed until June 2d, is approaching. (If you haven’t done so, be sure to apply for your absentee ballot by May 21st!)

As Hoosiers know, the district’s incumbent Representative is Susan Brooks, who (wisely) decided not to run again. To say that Brooks has been a huge disappointment to those of us who thought we knew her and expected her to be at least reasonably moderate would be an understatement. (To be a Republican these days is evidently to be a devoted Trump sycophant…)

Christina Hale is one of five Democrats running for the Fifth District seat, and in my admittedly biased opinion, she should be the slam-dunk choice. (There are fourteen candidates in the GOP primary, and– with the exception of Mark Small, who is valiantly trying to save the party from itself– they all seem to be emphasizing how Trumpy they will be if elected.)

I met Christina when she served in the Indiana legislature, where she was a highly effective advocate for women and girls  and small businesses, among other things. (Of the five Democrats running, Christina is the only one with legislative experience.) She’s a Latina  who put herself through school while she was a single mom, and she brings that same determination and capacity for hard work to her campaigns and legislative work.

When Christina ran for the Indiana State House in 2012, she defeated a 20 year Republican incumbent–flipping the seat from red to blue– and when she got to Indiana’s Republican-dominated statehouse, she got things done: during her legislative career, she had over 60 bills passed with bipartisan support.

I got to see more of Christina when she was John Gregg’s running mate in 2016, and I was further impressed with her campaign skills and her ability to communicate what is very clearly her passion for good government.

Can she win in the fall? Yes.

So far in this campaign, and despite the weirdness of running for office during a pandemic, Christina has outraised all of the other candidates– Democrats and Republicans–in every single quarter.  The reason that matters is because no matter which Republican emerges from that primary, you can be sure that person will be very well funded. But it also matters because those donations reflect donors’ excitement for Christina’s candidacy, and their belief that she can win.

I’m not the only person enthusiastic about Christina; so far, she’s been endorsed by Planned Parenthood, Latino Victory Fund, and a number of unions, including United Steelworkers, Sheet Metal Workers, IBEW, AFSCME and, most recently, the Serve America PAC.

You needn’t take my word for any of this. You can read about Christina at the campaign website.

I’m writing about Christina’s campaign because I can’t help her by voting for her–I live in Indiana’s 7th Congressional District, where I have a Congressperson with whom I am supremely happy, Andre Carson. (Andre is effective, intelligent, and responsive, and in our blue city, he is highly likely to be re-elected. He doesn’t need my help.)

The 5th District used to be solidly red, but it includes a significant number of educated professionals and solid, middle-class voters who have given evidence of re-thinking their allegiance to the GOP under Trump. In 2018, for the first time in forever, three Democrats were elected to municipal offices, and the incumbent Democratic Senator– who lost statewide– carried the district.

If the 5th District is ready to turn light blue–and I think it is–a candidate of Christina’s caliber and demonstrable bipartisan skills has the best shot of keeping it that color.

Anyway, that’s my two cents worth. But no matter who, VOTE. And VOTE BLUE.


  1. I found this extremely interesting because I have never heard of Christina Hale; of course I heard little if anything about John Gregg both times he ran for governor. Only voted for him due to party affiliation; he was a ghost candidate which I hope won’t hurt Ms. Hale’s campaign but, assuming it is “our” Mark Small opposing her, he has posted intelligence based comments on the blog. Good competitive Democratic candidates for the 5th District; whoever gets the nomination, will the four runners-up unite with them to strengthen the Democratic party and increase that “significant number” of voters. Carmel and Fishers is where the money is in evidence in this state and where Republicans congregate; we are fighting money in all levels of elections nationally. It certainly is not the warm and fuzzy, humanitarian nature of those who are in charge but they do have all that lovely green stuff at their disposal.


  2. There has been a rush of campaign commercials on the TV for the Republican candidates for the 5th district. They ooze out their undying support of Trump; one even rides a plow horse for heaven’s sake. What is that suppose to symbolize? All that comes to mind is that line from the movie The Queen, “Where do they get these people?”

  3. Thanks for this. I’m incensed over the Victoria Spartz ads, spewing DTJ-inspired garbage about (loosely paraphrased) ‘bringing manufacturing back from Communist China while Dems manipulate Coronavirus to further their Socialist agenda” – all in the same breath. Shameful. Based on the number of ads, she clearly has big $$$ backers. Please, tell me she cannot win.

  4. Uh – that should be DJT above, not DTJ… but you probably knew that. Can’t stand a typo. 😉

  5. Thank you for your thoughts on the 5th District and an endorsement. I have been very disappointed with the lack of information about most any Democrat in Indiana. Other than Keith Potts, who came to my door and was generally visible, I would not have known that there were really candidates for which I could vote. Dee Thornton was a huge disappointment last election. Jennifer Christie, while a very personable and serious candidate, was also never funded to the extent that one knew she was in the race. At least I have been getting some mailings from Christina Hales’s campaign.

  6. I live in the 5th district. I have received a lot of information about Dee Thornton, who seems to be more engaged than in her preceding run. I have received nothing at all from Hale.

  7. Jennifer Christie in the 5th.

    ” It’s time we simplify the process to allow for single-payer healthcare that guarantees health care for every American without exception. We have already proven that the Medicare system works. Guaranteeing health care as a human right.”

  8. Sheila, I always appreciate your column, and I learn a great deal from following it. Today I want to add my observation that Dee Thornton, for whom I worked in the last election, very nearly unseated Susan Brooks against unbelievable odds. (How can anyone call THAT result a “huge disappointment”? It was fantastic.) I’ve been volunteering for her again this time. Her hard work has laid the groundwork upon which we may hope for a Dem to win this time around. I can’t agree at all that she has been trying to show how Trumpy she would be if elected – can’t think what you’re basing that kind of harsh characterization on.
    Anyway, I think this time we in the 5th district CAN and WILL flip the district to BLUE, thanks in large part to Dee, and we seem to have more than one qualified and committed (female) candidate.
    I agree with Ms Green, in hoping that all 5 will work together after the primary, to see the seat go blue.
    And yes – after the primary – VOTE BLUE NO MATTER WHO in November!

  9. The “vote blue no matter who” strategy may work in the general election, but during the primary, as ML posted above, there is a wide disparity between democratic party candidates.

    Sadly, those voters who take time to know who they are voting for and why are in the minority.

    And, it would appear to me, whoever is in charge of the Indiana Democratic Party needs replacing since funding and marketing are non-existent in this state. It’s as if the DNC has simply given up on Indiana ever winning a congressional or senatorial seat, so they’ve hired a token leader just to have someone filling the vacancy.

  10. I’m disappointed Sheila. DEE THORNTON ran against Susan Brooks in 2018 and demonstrated that a Democrat can win in the 5th. She got about 44% of the vote without any prior experience and virtually no support from the Deminished Party. But the Party does not support newcomers.
    The Party is a void without a program, without candidates, without courage. All it has are a few faithful funders. There is a whole set of new, young leaders waiting, but they will be in advanced middle-age before they get a chance. The Deminished Party needs to be reformed, recast, reinvigorated and Ms. Hale is not the person to do that. DEE THORNTON is not a fireball, but she is not guilty of the indolence demonstrated by the slugs of today’s “Democrats”.

  11. Morton says, “Deminished Party.”


    I’ve had numerous young democrats reach out for advice about running in local or state elections. All of them full of passion and fire only to be quashed by the Deminished Party officials. Watching them be tossed aside is disheartening.

    Many of them seek more progressive alternative parties where their passion can be channeled for changing the two-party political system plaguing our society.

  12. Jeff Neufer, Thanks for your comments. In this day and age it is often very hard to get any concrete information on a candidate. It seems that no candidate is going to publish anything for fear it is going to be used as and attack point. The result is that there is less and less information coming directly from any of these candidates making it harder and harder to make a logical decision, as opposed to an emotional decision.

  13. This is the first time I ever have thanked anyone for a non-endorsement. This blog is an oasis of thoughtful dialogue. The racism amongst the higher-profile of my opponents in the GOP primary appalls me – and as I can tell most folks who post here. There are Hoosiers who never would vote for a Democrat because – well, that’s just how it is. (I was born in Indiana and have lived in Indiana all but two years of my life; such identification by people not so much “for” one party as “never would” in regard to the other makes little sense, but neither does anyone’s explanation of how we came to be called “Hoosiers.”) There also are people who are disgusted with both parties. The apartment complexes on I-65 heading toward Chicago and I-69 on the way to Fort Wayne are occupied, largely, by millennials who want to vote for someone who is fiscally conservative and socially progressive. They might never have voted in a primary. I only need about 18%. If I can win the GOP primary after my racist opponents have dumped cash by the bushel basket (how’s that for an allegory redolent of being a Hoosier?) to advocate for trump, it will be huge. The people in INCD5 then would have a “real” choice between two candidates who will advocate for them – & the rest of the USA and the World – in D.C. I encourage folks to read my blog at www dot civildiscoursenow dot com (and I am not very techno-advanced) and, even if you choose not to vote for me in the primary, encourage others to read. And Professor – thanks for your kind words. I’m disappointed that I did not obtain your endorsement, but I understand your reasoning. We can agree to disagree; trump hasn’t started building camps – yet..

  14. When Dee Thornton ran against Susan Brooks in 2018, I supported her from the first time I heard her speak and attended all her debates against Brooks as well as many other events. She got better every time she spoke and her loyal volunteer base grew throughout the 5th district. I would encourage voters to check out her website, to learn more about her background, endorsements and opportunities to connect virtually. Her experience as a business executive, her position on issues and her engaging enthusiasm for doing what is right got her closer than any other Democratic candidate in the 5th District in the recent past to beating a Republican. She can win the primary and she can win the general and is worth your support.

  15. Sheila. My apology. I have re-read the column, and I see my error! You did not call any of the Dems “Trumpy” – only GOP candidates, with your one exception. My error. Should have triple-read it before shaking my head and asking myself how you could have thought that of Dee. It didn’t make sense, and now I know why!

  16. Morton Marcus’ assessment of the current Democratic Party is thoroughly spot on. At the national level the same people that led them to defeat in 2016 are back again which doesn’t bode well for this year in the face of a clearly incompetent and dangerous national standard bearer. They seem to be afraid of their own shadows when, instead, they must carry this fight far more vigorously than they are currently doing and the samme holds true at the state level. The stakes are far too great and defeat being so cataclsymic for this attitude and performance. The fate of this country and the world as we have come to know it hang in the balance and In no way anything can be anywhere close to being business as usual.

  17. Despite campaigning for Dee Thornton last time round, I have already cast my vote for Hale because I do think she has the best chance of overturning this seat – but please don’t say she (Thornton ) was huge disappointment – she did surprisingly well with little past experience and backing. More power to her for standing up and trying to be part of the solution.

  18. I took a Democrat ballot this time – I am an independent who used to be a Republican before the party left me (I did not leave the party). I will probably vote for Christina Hale but Jennifer Christie came by my house in Jan. or Feb. and talked to me and my 93 year old mother. She has good environmental ideas and interacted with us well.

  19. It’s apparent there will be so many nutjobs and who knows what flotsam and jetsam connected with this administration running for everything including dog catcher for the up and coming elections. The chaos we are now experiencing is well planned and well enacted. Sheila i appreciate any logical/sensible/fact driven information you can give. Bias is always there but as we have learned in these three plus years unless some sense of logic prevails or at least exists we are completely lost. Again thanks for the heads up.

  20. Tom,

    “They seem to be afraid of their own shadows when, instead, they must carry this fight far more vigorously than they are currently doing and the same holds true at the state level.”

    You can’t neutralize Trump/Pence at the partisan politics level. The Democratic Party is too timid.

    Our only chance is to attack at the “deep” systemic level (at the earliest date possible). That’s where the pro-democracy forces can prevail. More specifically, that’s Trump’s “Achilles heel.”

  21. Dee Thornton got my vote. She has worked tirelessly in the 5th for several years, ran very well in the last cycle and has thought deeply about the issues affecting the district at the federal level. Her webpage has clearly articulated policy positions on all of the most important issues. Christina Hale is just another candidate picked by the party insiders who seldom if ever consult the voters in the district. She has been virtually invisible until two mailings sent in the last two weeks. I have attended her events for the last three years term and contributed my pittance to her campaign, putting my money where my mouth is. Her yard sign is firmly planted in our front yard.

  22. Thank you, Sheila. I am in the 5th District, and I didn’t have a clue who to vote for. Thanks for the recommendation; I trust your judgment. I will definitely give her a much closer look!

  23. Shiela you’re more than right in the fact she’ll have a better chance to turn this seat. She’s an activist with plenty of gusto and has a proven bipartisan record. That’s what we’re looking for blue or red. Remember Dave Evans how he carried a Republican area for years because he worked across the aisle. She’s a Senator Coons in the making.

  24. Dee Thornton has my vote. I want someone representing me who is transparent and who is not afraid to meet with voters. Since the pandemic, Dee has been meeting with constituents online and if you want to talk to Dee, you just call the office. How many other voters have actually spoken with a candidate? Dee is not asking voters for money, she is asking voters what they are worried about. It is refreshing to actually have some who listening. I think everyone owes it to themselves to do their homework. Check out She has proven already that she can flip the 5th.

  25. Time for me to put in my two cents (lots of text for the price).

    I’ve been in politics for over 50 years. I have been a part of Indiana Democratic politics since 2008. I am part of a group of outsiders, whom after initial resistance, the Democrats realized are an asset. I supported Scott Reske, Shawn Denney, and Angla Demaree before it was Dee Thorton’s turn. She had my enthusiastic support. I think she is wonderful.

    Growing up in Michigan, with family still there, I have watched Oakland County, an affluent suburb of Detroit, go from the stronghold of the Republican Party, to having a Democrat as the head of the county board. Hamilton County is headed in a similar direction, but it isn’t there yet. The 5th Congressional District is ready to flip. Part is the quality of the candidates, but a lot has to do with demographic shifts.

    I know Jennifer and I know Dee. I think either of them would be great Representatives. I also understand something about how Dee and her supporters feel. She worked hard and pushed in a Red district. Now that the district may turn, she may be bypassed. When I ran for Council against the incumbent Council President in 2011, I did better in my district, on a shoe string budget, than the candidate for Mayor did. I ran against a lobbyist. In 2015, the Party didn’t even talk with me. A Democratic lobbyist ran for what was then an open seat. My arguments were used against him. I felt bypassed and a bit disrespected.

    I am with Sheila here. Democrats have a choice of several excellent people in the primary, but my choice is Christina Hale. It is personal, but more than that. In 2011, the Democratic Party probably thought of me as a throw-away candidate, one with only a slim chance. I worked hard and had an amazing group of supporters. Somebody must have told Christina this when she decided to run for State Representative in 2012. She called and asked to meet for coffee. We talked for almost two hours. I told her about campaigning, but mostly I learned her political views and her life story, in detail. I was highly impressed and offered my complete support in her campaign.

    I saw her legislative career as a smart plan. She knew that the Republican control meant nothing good was likely to pass, so she worked at the edges. She worked on improving what were perhaps less controversial issues. No major issues that were doomed to lose, but improvement in areas that let her bypass the usual “if a Democrat proposes it the answer is no” attitude. She was effective.

    The most important reason I support Christina is something to the side. I can look and compare views and issues, priorities, and proposed solutions. I always ask, “What about the issue that doesn’t exist yet?” In 2018 was anyone thinking about Congressional response to a global pandemic? Do we know what will be the most important issue in 2021? Having had the opportunity to talk with her, I trust that Christina’s responses will be the right ones. I admit that this is subjective, but between this and my belief that she has an edge on winning the general election, I continue my support for Christina, which started last June (when Brooks said she wasn’t running), before Christina, Dee, or Jennifer announced.

  26. Although in November I will vote for whomever is on the ballot, I am supporting Jennifer Christie in the primary. She has lived in the Indiana 5th District for over 20 years. Jennifer is a friend of mine, and she and her family are members of my church. I have known her for several years. She is the only candidate who has a comprehensive plan to combat climate change. Jennifer also explicitly advocates “Medicare for All,” which is something that this pandemic has demonstrated that our country desperately needs. Jennifer is a scientist, not a career politician. Her background is in chemistry and biology, and she has worked as an environmental chemist. I think that we need more scientists and fewer career politicians in Congress. We need progressive change, and I am proud to be part of that change. For more information about Jennifer, I urge everyone to check out her campaign website at Regardless of who we support in the Primary, however, in November we need to vote blue, no matter whom!

  27. I believe it is so important to take a thorough look at the candidates before you cast your vote.
    Sheila, I believe you missed the boat when you did not endorse Dee Thornton again for District 5 representative. In 2018, Dee went after one of the most popular Republicans and came within 8 points. Dee has demonstrated courageous leadership. She didn’t wait to lead. Ms. Thornton did not wait for a retirement to get in the race. I would think Democrats would be 100% behind Dee this time, as she continues to be an independent thinker.
    What drew me to Dee Thornton was her intelligence, ability to listen, her willingness to deal with difficult subjects, her life skills, and her compassion. Ms Thornton has navigated a very successful career in business and knows how important it is to work together to get things done. Dee has energy, people skills, and the “can do” to accomplish tasks while looking out for ALL people. She is willing to reach across the aisle and work cooperatively for the common good.
    On a one to one issue of the almighty need for health care for all let me say this:
    HEALTHCARE is one of the most important issues facing our nation. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, many states had the opportunity to expand Medicaid and offer affordable health insurance to the working poor. Indiana established the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) to expand Medicaid coverage, and we are fortunate that many Hoosiers have access to health care that residents of some other states lack at this crucial time. Yet, when Christine Hale was in the state legislature and had the opportunity to help the working poor, Ms. Hale voted against the Medicaid expansion and supported drug testing of welfare recipients. Her record speaks for itself.
    I support Dee Thornton and trust that Dee will work to provide universal healthcare coverage for everyone.
    Intelligence, compassion, willingness, dedication, honesty, boundless energy and people skills. = District #5 needs Dee Thornton advocating for our best interests in DC.
    I say VOTE THORNTON and

  28. Oh Sheila! Sorry but I must disagree. Dee Thornton deserves our support. There is just a small portion of Marion County in District 5 and yet Marion Co Dems want to dictate who gets the seat. There are 8 other counties who will make the difference in who wins District 5. Marion Co will go D for the seat. Voters in the past the counties should have a say in this candidate selection. Dee worked hard in all 8 counties last time and people will remember her! I received texts from Hale’s campaign assuming I was on her team and would want to campaign for her. The only way they could have received my info would be from the Marion Co Dems! How arrogant. I have no doubt that Christina is qualified. Why is she not running for Governor? She ran for Lt Gov last time. I am sure her coffers are so robust because Gregg gave her funds from his 2016 gubernatorial campaign! Why can’t we have a Woman D candidate for governor and District 5?? Hmmm? I am not fond of talking of my dissatisfaction with the Marion County Dems , as they represent the only viable political option since the Republican Party is totally a lost cause but the Democrats have got to improve their act. My 20 something sons are constantly yelling at me about the Dems and how bad they are. When I counter then with “the Republicans are out of the question”, they give me that look of and therefore we are doomed! I feel their pain!

  29. Joe Donnelly won this district even while losing state wide in 2018. Thornton got 43%. That was a 7 point swing. Thornton did not “over” perform. On the other hand, Hale has been a proven vote getter. She turned a red district blue in 2012 By 51 votes and then expanded the margin in 2014 by 10 times, winning by nearly 500 votes. She has also been a dedicated, reliable democratic worker even though she is younger than Thornton. Thornton’s first involvement in the Democratic Party was when she ran in 2018. Hale has been a precinct Committee person, she has been a volunteer at the local level and worked for former Governor O’Bannon in the Department of Commerce. Then she went on and had a very successful career at one of the worlds greatest service organizations, Kiwanis. She moved up the ranks there to be in charge of key clubs all over the world. She ended up a top executive at Kiwanis. And yes she answered the call to be John Gregg’s running mate in 2016. I have no quarrel with Thornton, but as the former chair of the Indiana Democratic Party, the chair of the 2008 Obama campaign in Indiana and a former county chair, I am enthusiastically supporting my friend Christina Hale because she can flip this seat from red to blue. She has done it before. She has the brains, the lifetime loyalty and dedication to the Democratic Party, the compassion, the passion, the drive to win, and the positive attitude that are the key ingredients to win.

  30. Thanks to all who commented here. I learned more about the candidates here than from any other source.

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