Don’t say Elkhart County isn’t getting the love — visits anyway — from the varied candidates this political season.
The leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties here say they’ve been pleased with the quantity of hopefuls who have beat a path to Elkhart County stumping for votes.
“The candidates have made the effort to make the trip here,” said Dale Stickel, head of the Elkhart County Republican Party.
GOP gubernatorial hopeful Mike Pence has made three public appearances here since before the May 8 primary, U.S. Senate hopeful Richard Mourdock came at least once and 2nd District U.S. House hopeful Jackie Walorski has addressed two service club meetings here since late September alone. Moreover, Pence, working with state Republicans, was instrumental in locating an Indiana Victory Center in Elkhart, one of a handful of the get-out-the-vote centers around the state, according to Stickel.
Though Elkhart County, on whole, tends Republican, Shari Mellin, head of the Elkhart County Democratic Party, has likewise been impressed with the Democrats making their way here. Even if the candidates don’t get a majority of votes in Elkhart County, they recognize that coming here can still sway votes into their column and positively impact their overall vote count.
“They recognize that they have to at least keep the (vote) margin close here,” she said.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg visited Goshen on Sept. 18 and also made the Elkhart County 4-H Fair in July. Likewise, U.S. House hopeful Brendan Mullen — scheduled to address two Elkhart County service clubs later this month — has already made several stops here while U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Donnelly has passed through, at least for fundraisiers.
Donnelly, a Granger resident and currently the U.S. representative to the 2nd District, has spent more time in southern and central Indiana, trying to build voter identification down there, Mellin said. At any rate, in light of the varied requests from Democratic hopefuls for help organizing fundraisers, making phone calls and getting volunteers, Mellin said she’s stayed “very, very, very busy.”
If there is a downside, Stickel said it’s that the public hasn’t reciprocated the GOP visitors’ forays here by showing up for their campaign stops. “The voters have not made the effort to really sit down and talk with them,” he said.