My recurring answer to the question “what can we do about [fill in the blank]”has been “we have to get out the vote.” (In a recent Substack letter, Robert Hubbell pointed to an organization he believes is effective in doing just that: Focus For Democracy,. I know nothing about it, but I’m transmitting his recommendation.)
We all know that GOTV will be immensely important at the federal level, but we also need to recognize that down ballot races are equally critical–especially in Indiana, where the state lags in so many crucial areas thanks to the state’s Neanderthal Super-Majority. I’ve written before about the importance of the Secretary of State race, and I keep hearing that the candidates on the Democratic statewide ticket are unusually impressive.
Hoosier Democrats may finally have figured out that you can’t beat something with nothing. This year, the party has recruited some truly first-class candidates to run in districts they have historically written off.
And that brings me to Joey Mayer, who is running in House District #24. Her website is here.
Mayer is a high-quality candidate. She describes herself as “a life-long Hoosier, a mother, a wife, a small-business owner, a community organizer, a rescue dog mom and proud Democrat,” and in our discussions, she has come across as knowledgable, grounded and hard-working. She has knocked on more doors than any other candidate for Indiana’s statehouse, and she has a good grasp of policy–especially the policies that prompted her to run.
Her opponent is Donna Schaibley, an incumbent whose voting record places her firmly within the extremism of today’s GOP. Schaibley was one of the Republican lawmakers who sent a letter to the governor demanding a special session to ban abortion, and (of course) she voted in favor of the ban. She also voted against House Amendment #43, which would have put a non-binding question (shall abortion remain legal in Indiana?) on the November ballot. (Evidently, she was uninterested in finding out what Hoosiers actually wanted…)
Schaibley supported HB 1134–the House version of the Senate bill that, had it passed, would have dictated what Indiana’s public school teachers can and cannot teach (the embarrassing “be fair to Nazis” bill about which I previously posted.) And–predictably–she voted for permit-less carry, despite warnings about its dangers from multiple police and public safety officials .
Joey is pro-choice, pro-teacher, and pro-public education (as she says, public education works best when provided by professionals rather than politicians). She supports reasonable gun safety regulations. She has laid out her policies on her website, and I encourage you to click through and read them.
When I first went to that website and looked at the boundaries of District 24, I figured hers was a hopeless task. Much of the district is rural, and regular readers of this blog know I consider rural Indiana unreachably Red. But Joey has had some surprising experiences at those doors she’s been knocking on: she failed to anticipate the number of people who’ve told her “I thought I was the only Democrat in Hamilton County,” and the equally-unanticpated number of self-identified Republican women who begin by saying they’d never have an abortion themselves but go on to criticize Indiana’s ban as a huge and dangerous government overreach.
Several Democratic strategists who previously “wrote off” the district have moderated their initial skepticism. (As one told me, “It’s uphill, but it could happen.”)
There is a lesson here–a lesson that ought to be obvious: political parties that want to win elections don’t ignore difficult districts. They challenge them –and they do it by recruiting the highest-quality, hardest-working, most attractive candidates they can find.
In District 24, the Democrats have such a candidate. She is working hard, and she is challenging an extremist–a Republican forced-birth advocate who, despite claiming to be “pro-life,” supports measures that feed America’s deadly gun violence, and who also wants to micro-manage the teachers in Indiana’s public-school classrooms. The contrast could not be greater.
If a Democrat is ever going to flip this seat, this is the year it will happen.
But no matter the outcome, running an exceptionally good Democratic candidate deprives this member of the GOP cult of the opportunity to hide her extremist positions. If survey research is to be believed, only a minority of Hoosiers–even in rural Indiana– agree with those positions.
I’m going to throw a few dollars into this race, and I encourage those of you who can to do likewise. If any of you live in District 24, I hope you’ll volunteer and work to get out the vote.
Good candidates deserve all the help we can provide. And for once, Indiana Democrats have a lot of very good candidates!