Check out the website:  Look at the recent Political Notes and Len’s Letters on the website.

Incumbents:  Political Note #387 Mark Kelly Arizona US Senate, Political Note #379 Raphael Warnock Georgia US Senate, Political Note #365 Catherine Cortez Masto US Senate Nevada, Political Note #359 Maggie Hassan US Senate New Hampshire,

 Challengers: Political Note #400 Val Demings Florida US Senate, Political Note #420 Thomas McDermott, Jr. Indiana US Senate, Political Note #408 Charles Booker Kentucky US Senate,

October 20th, 2021             Political Note #420 Thomas McDermott Indiana US Senate

2022                                   General Election

Thomas McDermott Jr  is a long shot.  A five-term mayor of Hammond, Indiana, his father was mayor before him.  When his father’s mansion was sold at auction for back taxes, the Dean and Barbara White Foundation, the creation of a local billionaire who started with his father’s billboard company, bought the home for more than its sale price.  These days, we’d want to know the quid pro quo.  In those days, you could attribute it to a quirk of a quirky billionaire. McDermott Sr. described Dean White as a regular guy who sat in the same seat in the coffee shop every morning, “a nice guy that did well – and never forgot where he came from.”

Thomas McDermott Jr. came from Utah, his parents from California.  His father wound up in Indiana and his mother went back to California.  The son spent school years in Napa Valley, CA,  summers in Lake County, IN.  Thomas McDermott Jr joined the Navy out of Napa High School.  He saw the world for six years, then chose Indiana.  He got a BA from Purdue University Northwest and a law degree from Notre Dame.

In 2003, he followed in his father’s footsteps and reversed those footseps at the same time.  His father was elected the Republican Mayor of Hammond, Indiana in 1983 overturning a history of Democratic control of this small city.  He served for two terms establishing Republicans as the city’s dominant party. He could never get his interest in statewide office off the ground.  Thomas McDermott Jr is in his fifth four-year term as mayor.  A Democrat, he overturned the history of Republican mayors created by his father winning his first election by 700 votes.  He won his last two elections with 82% and 87% of the vote.

Thomas McDermott Jr is a long shot for winning election as US Senator, for defeating the incumbent Todd Young because Indiana is solid Republican territory.  Furthermore, statewide candidates from Lake County are often rejected in statewide elections.  Hoosiers think Lake County is really part of Chicago.  Even Pete Buttigieg,  the popular former South Bend mayor and current Transportation Secretary has been reluctant to run statewide in Indiana.

Hammond is a city of 75,000 people with a median home value of less than $100,000.  The city is 60% white, 20% African American.  Aside from Franciscan Health and the local school district, the largest employer is a casino. The Harbor Belt Railroad and Lear Seating, the 6th and 7th largest employers, are vestiges of its role in manufacture for transportation.  No matter how you display the statistics, it would be hard to persuade Hoosiers that Hammond is more like Muncie (a city famous for sociological studies of it as THE heartland city) than it is like Gary (famous for being more like Chicago than Chicago).

Thomas McDermott Jr’s disadvantages notwithstanding, Indiana political commentator Brian Howey argues the Hammond mayor has a decent chance for a surprise win in 2022.  Indiana, he says, has a peculiar habit of electing candidates who, like 2020 Congressional primary second place finisher Thomas McDermott Jr, have previously lost an election.  He makes a list: Birch Bayh, Dick Lugar, Mike Pence, Phil Sharp John Brademas.  Howey says Indiana keeps changing Senators and their parties.  He’s not wrong: In 2012, Democrat Joe Donnelly flipped a Republican seat.  In 2016 Republican Todd Young flipped a Democratic seat.  In 2018, Democrat Mike Braun flipped a Democratic seat.  If politics were cyclical (which it probably isn’t), Democrats would be due to flip a Republican seat.

Howey describes how effective Thomas McDermott Jr has been in attracting Republican votes in part, by stressing that he is not a liberal: “I’m glad I am a Democrat but it doesn’t mean I am a liberal.  There are some things that progressives agree with, my stand on marijuana which I think should be decriminalized.”  Thomas McDermott Jr also points to a free community college program he developed.  And in a way that no Republican could argue these days, he says his approach to leadership resembles Rudy Giuliani’s. He stays close to the police union and far away from anything that would resemble corruption.  He supports the 2ndAmendment while suggesting that our forefathers did not envision semi-automatic weapons when they wrote that amendment. The NRA does not count Thomas McDermott Jr as a supporter.

Thomas McDermott Jr attacks Senator Todd Young for being corrupted by Washington.  He is not talking about financial corruption. He points to Young’s opposition to the bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection, Young’s opposition to the American Rescue Plan, Young’s opposition to the infrastructure plan as being disgraceful, as evidence of Young having been corrupted by Washington’s ways.

Not that Thomas McDermott Jr will find this an easy campaign.  Todd Young already has $5 million available for the campaign.  And Thomas McDermott Jr has a nearly 20-year record as mayor to defend.  He abolished the city’s health department because they duplicated work done by the County Department.  He has been subject to complaints (most unsubstantiated) that he violated campaign finance requirements.  He does have successes to run on.  Like almost every mayor in the country, he is a booster for his city.  He explains the relatively stable population of Hammond as being a result of its livability.  He touts successes in making family friendly and ecologically appropriate lakefronts.  He touts school quality, including the quality of Charter Schools in town.  He says his city encourages economic development and offers opportunity to people of all levels of income.  Without embarrassment, he created a “façade rebate program” that makes everything look better.

If he has enough resources, he’ll be able to tout his successes as mayor and podcaster while condemning Todd Young’s failure as a Senator.  As he describes Young’s Washington corruption, he can focus on how Young’s willingness to criticize President Donald Trump early in his tenure has diminished. Early on, Young criticized Trump’s relationship with the Saudis, his complicity in the Yemeni civil war and the Kashoggi murder. Thomas McDermott Jr  says Young’s Washington corruption is characterized by his reluctance to criticize the latter Trump, the Trump who was impeached for soliciting politicized lies from Ukraine, the Trump whose Big Lie was that he won the 2020 election.  Trump has driven Todd Young and almost all Republicans into acquiescence.  Thomas McDermott Jr defines that acquiescence as corruption.  He intends to ride that definition to victory – even in Republican Indiana.  Help him do that.  Donate to his campaign.


Incumbent Senators to support

Arizona                     Mark Kelly (Lean D)

Georgia                     Raphael Warnock (Lean D)

Nevada                      Catherine Cortez Masto (Lean D)  

New Hampshire      Maggie Hassan (Lean D)


Challengers to support

Florida                       Congresswoman Val Demings is targeting Marco Rubio (Lean R)

Indiana                      Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr is less probable than the others, but could surprise (Solid R)

Iowa                           Ex Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer is targeting Chuck Grassley, seeking his 8th term (Solid R – maybe)

Kentucky                  2020 Senate Candidate Charles Booker is targeting Rand Paul (Solid R – maybe)

Ohio                           Congressman Tim Ryan is targeting the open seat created because Rob Portman is retiring (Lean R)


More challengers to come

Wisconsin                Republican Ron Johnson is a target (Toss Up) Nine Democrats are currently in the race; a few are still thinking about running.

North Carolina        Republican Richard Burr is retiring. (Toss Up) Former State Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley seems to be the Democratic front runner.  She has run and both won and lost in state-wide campaigns. 

Pennsylvania          Republican Pat Toomey is retiring. The seat is Open. (Toss Up) Democrats have been winning state-wide races recently. Five Democrats are currently in the race; more are thinking about it.

Missouri                    Republican Roy Blunt is retiring. (Solid R) All three Democratic candidates have a shot if Missouri Republicans nominate the wrong candidate.

Alabama                   Republican Richard Shelby is retiring. (Solid R) Is there a Democrat in Alabama who can create a Doug Jones-like surprise if the Republicans nominate the most offensive candidate?

Organizations to support

The Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)

The Democratic Governors Association (DGA)

The Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA)

The Democratic Association of Secretaries of State (DASS)

The Democratic (State) Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC)

Fair Fight Stacey Abrams organization to support fair elections

Democratic Party of Virginia Coordinated Campaign (VADEMS)

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