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Democrats confirm slate of statewide candidates, lay out 2022 priorities

The Indiana Democratic candidates hold hands on a black stage in front of a crowd.
Rebecca Thiele
IPB News
Democrats confirmed their statewide candidates: Treasurer Jessica McClellan, Auditor ZeNai Brooks, Secretary of State Destiny Wells and U.S. Sen. Tom McDermott.

Democrats unveiled their party platform for 2022 while formally selecting their statewide nominees Saturday.

The Indiana Democratic Party confirmed a platform that focused on improving voter turnout, public education, workers rights and Indiana’s overall health. Chair Mike Schmuhl said Indiana’s place at the bottom for those measures is largely because of two decades of Republican leadership.

“They’re in a fight for who they wanna be as a party,” he said. “We know who we want to be as a party. We are the party that backs American democracy, that backs Hoosier democracy.”

Schmuhl said that’s the message Democrats are taking to Hoosier voters through events on tours across the state.

Indiana Republican Party Chair Kyle Hupfer said he’ll believe Indiana Democrats are “competent and electable” when they win a statewide office.

Indiana Democrats also formally nominated three women for statewide offices at their state party convention.

For state treasurer, Democrats nominated Jessica McClellan – Monroe County’s two-term treasurer. She said that experience is the perfect stepping stone to the state office.

“I would want to elect somebody who’s qualified for this office,” McClellan said. “If somebody had experience and it’s a good sized county, and they really know what the treasurer’s office does – to me, that’s the idea of the perfect candidate.”

If elected, McClellan would become the first openly LGBTQ+ statewide office holder in Indiana history.

READ MORE: Diego Morales upsets Secretary of State Holli Sullivan at Indiana GOP convention 

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Democrats nominated ZeNai Brooks for state auditor to face off against Republican Tera Klutz. Brooks, like Klutz, is a certified public accountant and said she wants to bring better accountability to the office.

“I think at this point in time, people are really wanting to restore trust in how our tax dollars are being spent … they’re tired of how things have always been and so it’s time for change,” Brooks said.

And Destiny Wells is the Democratic nominee for secretary of state. She said she wants to improve Indiana’s low voter turnout. She frequently repeated that Indiana is not a red state, it’s a purple state with a voter turnout problem.

“So these are complex problems that need a professional in the office, who can also reach across the aisle and start to … undo what has been a Gordian knot tied by the Republicans for the last 30 years, resulting in us having one of the worst voter turnouts in the nation,” Wells said.

Wells had sharp criticism for the Republican chosen to face her in November: Diego Morales. Former Trump campaign advisor Steve Cortes advocated for Morales and he has appeared on Steve Bannon’s podcast.

“Do you know what all these people have in common? Insurrectionists,” Wells said.

None of these offices have been held by Democrats since 1994.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled Mike Schmuhl's last name. 

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

Lauren is the digital editor for our statewide collaboration, and is based in Indianapolis at WFYI. Since starting for IPB News in 2016, she's covered everything from protests and COVID-19 to esports and policy. She's a proud Ball State University alumna and grew up on the west side of Indianapolis.