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The Journal Gazette

Friday, April 27, 2018 1:00 am

Editorial

A contender

Tritch has gravitas to give Democrats hope

3rd District Congress

Democratic ballot

John F. Roberson

Tommy A. Schrader

Courtney Tritch *

Northeast Indiana hasn't had a Democratic representative in Congress since Jill Long lost her bid for re-election in 1994, and it's been awhile since the party has even fielded a serious area candidate for the post. Courtney Tritch, in her first bid for public office, offers a chance for area Democrats to get back into the game.

Motivated to get involved by the results of the 2016 election, Tritch acknowledges that “a lot of people wouldn't have thought that this could be a viable campaign.”

In the primary, she's opposed by two perennial candidates, Tommy Schrader and John F. Roberson. But it will be an uphill climb to take on incumbent Republican Jim Banks in the fall election in the heavily Republican 3rd District, which Donald Trump carried by 35 points. Banks is unopposed for renomination.

Though Tritch, a Fort Wayne native who returned here 11 years ago, has never worked in government, the decade she has spent in community and economic development work here has helped her fashion a centrist philosophy that could appeal not just to Democrats but to Republicans dismayed at how far to the right their party has moved.

“I've always said that ... I was fiscally conservative and socially progressive,” Tritch said. “I didn't know where that put me – somewhere in the middle, and people get that here.”

On health care, for instance, which she says she is finding to be voters'No. 1 issue this year, Tritch has a positive alternative to the Republicans' repeal-but-don't-replace approach of last year. But she also avoids the perils of leaping to a single-payer solution, as some Democrats advocate.

Tritch wants to reduce costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate on drug prices and add a Medicare option for younger applicants to the exchanges now available under the Affordable Care Act. It would be a step toward universal health care without again overhauling the already-battered health care industry. “That stabilizes the market, and it brings the costs down,” Tritch said. “If we do that, and people like it, then more and more people could buy into that and we could gradually scale up.”

Seeking the sensible middle ground could also appeal to younger voters swayed more by ideas and solutions than by party loyalty. While many Indiana politicians were running for political cover, Tritch spoke at the first of two student-organized rallies in Fort Wayne against gun violence.

“I am not someone who is interested in repealing the Second Amendment,” she told our editorial board. “But I think there is a responsible way to approach gun ownership.

“There is so much room for bipartisan agreement,” Tritch said, listing universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines and registering gun ownership.

“If you can't buy a gun, and I can, it is now legal for me to buy it and just give it to you,” she said. “But if I wanted to give you a car, I would have to take that registration, you would have to give me a dollar, and we would have to re-register it.

“I just named three things that have nothing to do with taking your gun away.”

Tritch, who also has well thought-out positions on such issues as immigration, public education and clean energy, could offer a clear, sensible alternative for those disillusioned with the Trump Revolution.

We endorse Courtney Tritch for the Democratic nomination to face Banks in November.