More than 150 people gathered in Indianapolis Saturday for a national Democratic candidate training. State party leaders say this is part of a larger push for Democrats in Indiana.
In 2019, Democrats pulled off some surprising upsets across the state, including winning municipal elections they’d never won before. Two of the people behind those upsets spoke at a training hosted by the Indiana Democratic Party and the National Democratic Training Committee Saturday.
Sam DeLong won Fishers’s North Central district council seat in 2019. DeLong was one of two Democrats elected in 2019, representing a first for the city council. She says she was inspired to run for office because of what was happening nationally.
“Everyone seems to think there are no Democrats in Fishers. And I wanted to change that perception,” DeLong says. “And now that we have two people on city council and we have one on one of our township councils, that’s going to make a lot of change for us. Hopefully to get more Democrats to run, and flip Hamilton County blue.”
DeLong didn’t attend the candidate training before making her run. But Robert Pope did in 2018 and won a seat on Avon’s town council in 2019. He says he wanted to come back to share his experience.
“It feels that you’re in a sea of red, but you’re not. I feel the donut counties are much more purple than–than I think we see,” Pope says.
The National Democratic Training Committee and the Indiana Democratic Party hosted the first training session in 2018. Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody says, these trainings build momentum for 2020.
“And so our job is to build that statewide organization, statewide infrastructure. And that starts with candidates up and down the ballot,” Zody says.
The training focuses on resources for not only how to run for office, but also how to help run a campaign. National Democratic Training Committee Chief Technology Officer Ashby Fiser says building Indiana’s Democratic candidates is part of a national strategy.
“We need to be out there, where–where the fight is at,” Fiser says.
More than half of the people who attended are aspiring candidates.