Dems gaining political ground in Porter County

2012-11-07T19:00:00Z 2012-11-08T15:41:03Z Dems gaining political ground in Porter CountyBy Bob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
November 07, 2012 7:00 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | From president on down to the County Council, every Democratic candidate who ran countywide Tuesday won more local votes than their Republican challengers.

While the local votes did not add up enough to stand in the way of several Republican victories at the state level, including the governor's office, they did result in a sweep of the County Council and commissioner races.

Michael Simpson, vice chairman of the Porter County Republican Party, said Wednesday he believes Porter County is starting to trend more Democrat.

Part of the reason for the easing of the GOP stronghold on the county is the influx of residents from such traditionally Democratic areas as Lake County and Illinois, he said. The GOP itself is also responsible, he said.

"Our message did not resonate," Simpson said.

He said GOP officials will go back to drawing board and refine their approach, as well as review the tactic of sending out last-minute fliers that some Democrats criticized as negative campaigning.

"I don't think it was effective like it was in the past," he said, standing behind the message of those fliers.

While celebrating several key victories, Porter County Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Chidester was more cautious in coming to any conclusions about Tuesday's election results.

"I don't think Porter County is blue or red," he said. "What is it, purple?"

Chidester pointed out Republicans swept all but one office at the county level just two years ago.

County election records show that Democrats cast more straight party tickets than Republicans in three of the past four general elections.

Sweeps by either party have not necessarily translated into dominance at the county level.

The recent heated dispute over the county's 2013 budget broke down into two bipartisan camps of commissioners and County Council members.

Democratic Councilwoman Laura Blaney won the South District seat Tuesday on the Board of Commissioners. On Jan. 1, she will begin working alongside Republican Commissioners Nancy Adams and John Evans. Evans joined her, Democrat Councilman Dan Whitten and Republican Councilwoman Karen Conover in a failed bid last month for an alternative version of the 2013 county budget.

Democratic Councilwoman Sylvia Graham went on Tuesday to capture the largest share of the vote in her race, despite efforts against her by Evans and others.

Whitten also won re-election Tuesday and will be joined by one-time Councilman Bob Poparad, retaining Democrats' 4-3 majority on the council.

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