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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, June 10, 2018 1:00 am

Hoosier Democrats to hear Holder

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will address state delegates at the Indiana Democratic Party State Convention on Saturday in Indianapolis. Holder is expected to discuss the political landscape heading into the 2018 election.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody was excited to welcome Holder to the Hoosier State, especially considering Holder's new role as chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a collaborative effort to end gerrymandering.

“Indiana is ground zero for the fight to ensure fair elections and redistricting reform,” Zody said. “I know Hoosier Democrats will be excited to hear Attorney General Holder's focus on ending gerrymandering.”

Holder was the 82nd attorney general for the United States and served in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2015 and has been a civil rights advocate throughout his legal career. 

The Indiana Democratic Party State Convention is a part of Big Dem Weekend, a biannual event when Hoosier Democrats gather to conduct party business. State delegates will nominate the party's candidates for secretary of state, auditor and treasurer and ratify the party's 2018 platform.

On Friday, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan will keynote the Hoosier Hospitality Dinner.

Democrat files for treasurer nod

Former state representative John Aguilera of East Chicago filed last week to seek the Democratic nomination for state treasurer.

“I'm running because Hoosiers deserve a state government that reflects the communities it serves,” Aguilera said. “As treasurer, I will go to work for working families and give every Hoosier a voice in state government.”

Aguilera owns a small business and previously was president and CEO of the Indiana Latino Institute and a Lake County council member.

He believes one-party control of Indiana government has shifted the focus to special interests and away from working families.

“Government works when it's inclusive, when it fights for families,” Aguilera said. “When one party controls the process from top to bottom, Hoosiers' interests take a back seat. This campaign is about making everyday Hoosiers priority No. 1 again.”

Aguilera must next be nominated by a majority of delegates at the Democratic Party's state convention Saturday. He is the only candidate.

He would face Republican Treasurer Kelly Mitchell in the general election.

Donnelly approval declines in poll

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is treading water in Morning Consult's “2018 Midterm Wave Watcher.”

The polling firm reported Wednesday that Donnelly's approval rating has dipped a bit this year, as have the ratings for most incumbent senators in 10 states thought to be competitive in advance of the general election Nov. 6.

Donnelly began the year approved by 43 percent of registered voters in Indiana and disapproved by 30 percent. In May, 41 percent approved of him and 34 percent disapproved.

Approval fell and disapproval rose for seven other senators – six Democrats and a Republican. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., saw her approval rating drop from 51 percent to 44 percent and her disapproval rating jump from 34 percent to 45 percent.

Two senators – Democrats Jon Tester of Montana and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin – each gained 1 percentage point of approval and lost 1 percentage point of disapproval from January to May. Tester, at 52 percent, was the only senator of the bunch to have an approval rating higher than 50 percent in May.

Granger resident Donnelly is being challenged in the general election by Republican Mike Braun of Jasper and Libertarian Lucy Brenton of Indianapolis.

Campaign cruise in Kosciusko

Kosciusko County Democrats are taking Indiana secretary of state candidate Jim Harper for a ride.

Harper will be the guest of honor for the county Democrats' second annual Lake Wawasee Boatride on June 24. The group will board the SS Lillypad for a two-hour cruise.

Tickets are $43 for adults and $20 for children and can be bought online at, or checks can be mailed to the Kosciusko County Democratic Party.

Harper is expected to be nominated at Saturday's Democratic state convention. The Valparaiso lawyer would challenge Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson in the general election.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at