The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, March 23, 2021 10:07 am

New state Democratic chief hopes 'Trump fever is breaking'

Niki Kelly | The Journal Gazette

Indiana Democrats have a new leader – 38-year-old venture capitalist Mike Schmuhl.

But you might say he has always had politics in his blood – his parents met on a congressional campaign in Bloomington in 1974.

Most recently he got rave reviews for running Pete Buttigieg's campaign for president – catapulting a little-known South Bend mayor to national prominence.

And now he's ready for an even bigger challenge – taking the Indiana Democratic Party to the next level.

“I think we've had a few tough cycles, tough years, but I am up to the challenge,” Schmuhl said. “I took this job because I think our state and our party are really at a crossroads. I don't think our government should be tilted so far to one side for so long.”

He compared it to rebuilding a team that hasn't made the NCAA tournament in years and taking them back to March Madness.

Schmuhl said the last two cycle have been impacted by a big Trump effect in Indiana and “I think and hope that Trump fever is breaking.”

He said his job is to raise money, recruit good candidates and start winning.

Schmuhl said he learned a few things from the Buttigieg campaign that will help – don't take any people or places for granted; understand the media landscape has changed and you have to reach people digitally and through organizing and have a big message that is welcoming to all people.

He has been a South Bend resident for the last 15 years and was Buttigieg's first city chief of staff. Schmuhl also worked on U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly's congressional campaign. He has a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Notre Dame and a master's degree in International Affairs from Sciences Po in Paris, France.

In his spare time Schmuhl, loves cycling and going to bike shops. He has three bicycles right now – a really old one, a funky one he built himself and a long-distance road bike.

“I really am into bicycles. I guess that's quirky,” he said.

Schmuhl was officially elected Saturday though his race was uncontested.

Sign up for our daily headlines newsletter

Top headlines are sent daily