The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, June 01, 2021 1:00 am

Democrats' state tour starts in city

To tout virus relief at Thursday event at Courthouse

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Democrats will kick off a statewide tour Thursday in Fort Wayne to hail benefits of the American Rescue Plan.

Former U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry will talk about the millions coming to the state and Allen County – and the difference it can make in people's lives.

It is the first of about 30 county stops the Indiana Democratic Party plans for the month of June.

“We're doing this because light is at the end of the tunnel and the American Rescue Plan is very popular,” Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Mike Schmuhl said. “We want to spread the news.”

And perhaps point out that Republican congressmen didn't vote for it, he added.

“Republicans are too busy trying to figure out who they are and infighting, but we are going to talk about how Joe Biden and Democrats are delivering for Hoosiers,” he said.

The event – less a rally and more a conversation – will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Allen County Courthouse.

Derek Camp, chairman of the Allen County Democratic Party, said Democrats see an opportunity to flip the county blue in the next four years and this is the beginning of a strategy to do that.

He said Fort Wayne is getting about $50 million from the American Rescue Plan and the county about $73 million.

“With those resources it should allow us to recover from the hardships of the pandemic. And that is everyone – not just Democrats,” Camp said.

The statewide tour is the first big tactic pushed by Schmuhl, who took over in March. He managed both the mayoral and presidential campaigns of his childhood friend Pete Buttigieg.

Schmuhl said he has added employees to the team and fundraising is going well. He also noted a recent commitment by the Democratic National Committee to provide additional dollars for those considered red states such as Indiana.

He also recently tapped five deputy chairs to help rebuild and strengthen the party. They are not part-time volunteers.

Clerk Nicole Bolden will focus on outreach to cities and towns; former Indiana House member Christina Hale will handle candidate recruitment; Sen. Eddie Melton will concentrate on equity and engagement; Kent Yeager will work with rural communities; and Destiny Wells will emphasize coalitions and expansion.

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