Campaign office for Clinton, other Democratic candidates opens in Bloomington

Herald Times: From the White House to the courthouse

To borrow a phrase from Monroe County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Fraley, that’s the fashion in which local party members are looking to elect Democrats — both up and down the ticket.

Fraley and other local party leaders spoke to a room packed full enough to overpower the air conditioning with body heat during Wednesday night’s official opening of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s new campaign office in Bloomington, located at 501 N. Walnut St. The office also will serve as local headquarters for other Democratic candidates, including Evan Bayh for U.S. Senate, John Gregg for governor, Glenda Ritz for state superintendent of public instruction and candidates for local offices.

Dawn Johnsen, Walter W. Foskett Professor at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, spoke warmly of Clinton, recalling meeting her for the first time 25 years ago at a speaking engagement.

“Know that you can corner me and I’ll go on and on and on about the reasons I’ve been a huge fan of Hillary Clinton,” Johnsen said.

But Johnsen chose to focus on one particular trait of Clinton’s, calling her a “radical, transformative, cutting-edge change maker when it comes to social justice.”

She encouraged anyone who needs a little convincing to vote for Clinton to watch the candidate’s speech to a women’s conference in Beijing 21 years ago about women’s rights being human rights.

“Anyone who is in need of a little shoring up, have them spend 20 minutes watching that and they’ll be out knocking doors,” Johnsen said. “That’s the real Hillary Clinton.”

Johnsen’s husband, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton, showed a picture of himself with Clinton, whom he met at an event when he was starting a community development finance bank in Washington, D.C.

He said that’s important, because it shows she “wanted to help support a little group trying to make change happen” and had seen first hand in Arkansas how important community development finance is to the people who’ve been left behind by the economy.

“You know who (people) are based on what they fight for, who they fight for,” Hamilton said.

Jeanne Smith, a local business woman who served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and was one of nearly 30 transgender delegates in attendance, said the choice in this election is simple.

“To me, there’s no choice,” she said. “This is our big chance. Let’s take it back.”

Vi Simpson, a former minority leader in the Indiana Senate and former Monroe County auditor, said it will take effort to “take it back,” but that it is possible.

“If we do our jobs ... we can turn Indiana blue again,” she said. “Please do not leave here without signing up to do something. For heaven’s sakes, just do something.”

Both Simpson and Fraley emphasized that party unity is key during this important election.

Fraley also reminded local voters that anyone who wants to vote a straight party ticket needs to vote “D+3,” because at-large candidates — the Monroe County Council at-large members in particular, during this election — are not included in a straight party vote and must be selected separately. Those voters will also face other additional voting choices, including school board races, state judge retentions and ballot questions, which in the MCCSC district includes the school property tax referendum.