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.


Speaking Of Disappointments….

A reader has sent me the following information about a “listening session” that Rep. Susan Brooks, an Indiana Republican, will be holding this coming Monday.

Please get the word out. For those in Susan Brooks area of the 5th Congressional District of Indiana, she will be holding a “listening” session in the Indianapolis area on Monday August 6 at the Lawrence Readiness Training Center, 9920 E 59th Street, Lawrence, Indiana (Indianapolis East-side). She needs an earful as she has been weak on women’s issues and against women’s right to choose. She is rarely available in Indianapolis and this is an opportunity to show up and be heard. This is the closest we will ever get to a Town Hall, which she will not do.

I have known Susan Brooks since the early 1980s. For most of that time, I considered her a friend–not a close friend, but certainly someone simpatico. From what I could tell, she did a good job as U.S. Attorney and as Deputy Mayor, and she practiced criminal defense law with one of the lawyers I most admire, Rick Kammen. (Among his other virtues, Rick has represented Guantanamo detainees, and he is as decent and compassionate as he is skilled.)

Then, of course, she was elected.

The woman I had always assumed was pro-choice trumpeted her antagonism to abortion. The woman I had always considered reasonable was suddenly “all in” to the agenda of a President that she had to know was deranged. A lawyer who had defended the civil liberties of criminal defendants turned into a lawmaker willing to vote for judges opposed to the rights of women, gays and criminal defendants. The woman who attended numerous community meetings as Deputy Mayor became virtually inaccessible to constituents and unwilling to hold Town Halls at which she might be challenged, or forced to defend her increasingly indefensible positions and support for Donald Trump.

Brooks became one of Trump’s most ardent supporters, voting with the President 98.9% of the time, according to Nate Silver. (Based upon Trump’s margin of victory in the 5th district, she would have been predicted to vote with him “only” 85.9 % of the time.)

What were some of those votes? Well, she opposed a carbon tax. She signed onto a resolution supporting ICE and its current immigration tactics. She voted with her party to roll back Dodd-Frank regulations put in place to prevent bankers from engaging in the practices that triggered the 2008 recession, and for the repeal of measures to protect consumers from discriminatory markups on auto loans. She opposed limiting the ability of officials to search and read private messages collected incidentally as part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

She has also been a reliable anti-choice vote, most recently voting to make abortion illegal after 20 weeks. Despite her former experience with criminal activity and gun violence, she voted to make concealed carry permits valid across state lines–a position that most law enforcement professionals view as anathema to reducing gun violence.

And of course, she voted for the execrable tax “reform” bill –  a 1.5 trillion dollar giveaway to the richest Americans at the expense of the middle class, who will have to finance the exploding debt and deficits caused by the tax measure. (Doing so will be made more difficult by the administration’s persistent, successful efforts to increase the costs of healthcare by sabotaging the Affordable Care Act –efforts that Brooks has enthusiastically supported). 

Unlike Indiana embarrassments like Todd Rokita and Jackie Walorski, Brooks is intelligent– she knows how much damage is likely to be caused by these and other measures she has supported. I can only assume that her slavish devotion to this disastrous administration is a cynical effort to foreclose a primary challenge in a district that has been gerrymandered to be reliably Republican.

Staying in office evidently trumps integrity.

Brooks’ Democratic opponent–a businesswoman named Dee Thornton whose positions are far more reflective of those of 5th District voters, according to polls I’ve seen–is an underfunded political novice. Even in a year that promises the possibility of a blue wave, the odds are against her. But if you are one of the many 5th District constituents who thought they were electing a moderate and have subsequently been disappointed, you should register that disappointment, and send Brooks a message, by voting for Dee Thornton.

Meanwhile, Monday’s meeting is a rare opportunity to voice your disapproval in person.