A Fort Wayne resident said Thursday he has formed a political party and will run for a U.S. House seat representing northeast Indiana.
Tyler Bender announced his candidacy for Congress in an email to media, although his Facebook page indicates he has been a 3rd District candidate since early November.
Bender, 36, identifies himself as a Fort Wayne-born, Noble County-raised veteran of the Marine Corps. He said on his LinkedIn page he has been a veterans outreach specialist for the University of Denver and worked for Frontier Communications, Verizon and Group Dekko.
Bender said his Working Party – which he called “more of an idea than an organization” – will focus on job creation and improving the education system. He said he believes he can draw votes from Republicans and Democrats alike and appeal to urban and rural voters.
“Both parties have been offering nothing but more of the same for decades now. And more of the same simply has not been working for our district, or for the country,” Bender said in an email.
He said he will be “speaking directly with the people of northeast Indiana, listening to their problems, educating them on the issues, and offering them real representation and real solutions.”
His campaign website states that Bender supports making Medicare available to all Americans, investing in renewable energy, finishing U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, decriminalizing marijuana, providing a path to U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants and raising the Social Security retirement age while increasing the income threshold for paying into the retirement benefits program.
Bender's LinkedIn page said he has a master's degree in international studies from the University of Denver and a bachelor's degree from IPFW, where he majored in sociology and psychology.
Bender will run for the 3rd District seat held by Republican Rep. Jim Banks, a former state senator from Columbia City who was elected to the U.S. house in 2016. Announced candidates for the Democratic Party's nomination are David Roach, Tommy Schrader and Courtney Tritch, all of Fort Wayne.
Aside from Democrats and Republicans, the only political party to field congressional candidates in Indiana's 3rd District since 2000 has been the Libertarian Party, and none of its candidates has received more than 7 percent of the vote.
To qualify for this year's ballot, an independent or minor-party candidate must collect the signatures of certified registered voters equal to at least 2 percent of the votes cast for Indiana secretary of state in the 2014 general election in the district the candidate wishes to represent. The filing deadline is July 16.