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Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers.
Democrats tab Elkhart custodian Norm Anderson to challenge Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers
Posted on June 23, 2014 at 6:02 p.m.

ELKHART — Elkhart County Democrats have picked a candidate, Norm Anderson, to challenge Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers in his re-election bid.

Rogers, a Republican, riled some Democrats and others when he traveled to the Nevada ranch of Cliven Bundy in April. That, said Dwight Fish, vice chairman of the Democratic Party in Elkhart, factored at least partially in the selection of a challenger.

Chad Crabtree, secretary of the party, downplayed the role of the Nevada trip in Anderson’s candidacy. County residents, he said Monday, June 23, “are looking for a choice.”

Neither Anderson nor Elkhart County Democratic Party Chairwoman Shari Mellin could immediately be reached for comment Monday. Fish, though, said Anderson is a custodian for Elkhart schools

"He’s a very good character,” said Fish. “He’s a very strong community supporter.”

No Democrat filed to run for the sheriff’s position in the primary last May. Indiana law, though, allows Democratic and Republican party officials until June 30 to select hopefuls to run for races lacking candidates from the respective parties. Mellin tabbed Anderson to run as a Democrat for sheriff and submitted the pertinent paperwork Monday, according to Chris Anderson, deputy clerk in the Elkhart County Clerk’s Office.

Rogers, seeking his second term, announced his re-election plans last January, calling himself a “servant of the people and ... a guardian of the Constitution.” He’s a conservative, an outspoken proponent of gun rights and a critic of federal overreach.

He grabbed a lot of attention after his April 18-20 visit to Bundy’s ranch in Nevada. The rural zone was site of a tense armed showdown between U.S. Bureau of Land Management reps who say Bundy, a cattle rancher, owes perhaps $1 million in grazing fees and critics, like Rogers, who thought the feds took things too far in going after the man.

Some Democrats here thought Rogers’ trip was inappropriate, that his focus should be public safety in Elkhart County.

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.