ELKHART — There won't just be a Democrat and a Republican on the ballot for the 2nd District U.S. House post come November.
Jeff Petermann, chairman of the Elkhart County Libertarian Party, said Monday, March 17, that he plans to wage a third-party bid, partially spurred by dissatisfaction with one-term incumbent Rep. Jackie Walorski, a Republican.
"I'm going to go there and do what I say I'm going to do," Petermann said.
He went on to single out Walorski. She positioned herself as a conservative tea party candidate leading up to her victory in the November 2012 election, he said, but her subsequent voting record doesn't live up to the billing. Walorski, he said in a statement, "seems to have an issue matching her words up to her votes."
Walorski, from the Jimtown area, will be seeking her second term in elections this year, the only Republican running for the 2nd District seat. Four Democrats, Joe Bock, Douglas Carpenter, Bob Kern and Dan Morrison, face off in the May 6 primary.
Aside from dissatisfaction with Walorski, Petermann — who runs a marketing firm, Certified Marketing Guru — sounded a small-government message. Amid growing federal spending and an expanding federal bureaucracy, less intrusive government is "a necessity," he said.
He went on: "More state and local governments should be making decisions (on) local issues... We have people in Washington, D.C., trying to decide what's best for us at a local level when they have no idea what's going on locally."
He described himself as a fiscal conservative, leaning toward the tea party on social issues. He's pro-life, he said, and, in response to a query about same-sex marriage, said the "government should have no hand whatsoever" in such matters.
Libertarians are set to hold a convention starting April 25, when party candidates across Indiana are to be formally picked. Petermann's heard rumblings of another Libertarian running for the 2nd District U.S. House seat, but either way, he'll "be campaigning from this moment forward."
MORE THAN JUST A POTENTIAL SPOILER?
Petermann, 33, is making his first run for elected office. He used to be a Republican, even served as a GOP precinct committeeman in Elkhart County up until a year or so ago. But he sees the Republican Party as too fractious, noting tea party, more moderate and other elements. More generally, he views the two-party, Democratic-Republican system as monolithic, calling it "the Republicrat system."
Libertarians have run for the 2nd District post in at least the past two cycles, Joe Ruiz in 2012 and Mark Vogel in 2010, mustering less than 5 percent of the vote total each time. Some observers, though, have suggested Vogel helped tip the close 2010 race in favor of Democrat Joe Donnelly, the ultimate victor, siphoning votes from Walorski.
Whatever the case, Petermann said he's not running to be a spoiler. "I certainly think I can beat Jackie," he said.
In criticizing Walorski, Petermann pointed to her Jan. 15 vote for a government spending measure. FreedomWorks, the conservative, small-government group, is critical of the measure and those who voted for it, saying it calls for $45 billion more in spending than under caps established in 2011.
Petermann was also critical of Walorski's vote last year against a proposal put forth by U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, to halt the National Security Agency's controversial data collection programs. The measure ultimately failed.
Walorski spokesman Brendon DelToro, in response to Petermann's criticism, said the Republican remains focused on "finding common-sense solutions to our nation's problems."