CROWN POINT | Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said Friday he will ask the Democratic Party faithful to re-elect him as their chairman.
McDermott, who first made the announcement on WJOB, where he has a regular show, said he will meet with precinct committee members around the county, beginning in Cedar Lake and Lowell.
His campaign for another four years at the party's helm will climax March 2 in the Lake County Government Center's auditorium, where as many as 530 committee members will caucus for that election.
McDermott said running for a second term as party boss "wasn't the easiest decision" because of the burden of fundraising for the party. "A month before the last election, I seriously considered resigning."
He said the election of Democrat Joe Donnelly as U.S. senator in November and a meeting with the state party chairman buoyed his spirits, and he decided to make his own case to the party.
"We have won the races we were supposed to win," McDermott said.
Local Democrats have contributed to the election of 146 Democratic federal, state, county, municipal and township officials in 220 races between 2010 and 2012 under McDermott's tenure, according to the county election board website.
McDermott said the 2010 election of Hank Adams as county assessor, the first Republican to win a countywide race in 50 years, was a black mark on his record, but he blamed that on the Democratic candidate, Carol Ann Seaton. Her campaign foundered over allegations she tried to dodge state auto registration fees by registering her vehicles in Michigan, despite not living there. McDermott had supported another candidate for assessor in that year's primary.
"I think I have a great relationship with the city and town chairmen. I hope the precinct committee people agree and give me four more years," he said.
McDermott said he doesn't expect Sheriff John Buncich to challenge him for the party chairman post, but he said he couldn't rule out other opponents.
McDermott said his biggest goal is to make the Lake County Democratic Party more respectable.
"It's an image change we are attempting to undertake. When you go statewide and you say Lake County Democrat, many form an image that isn't positive," McDermott said.