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Former Indiana GOP schools chief changes party affiliation to Democratic
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Former Indiana GOP schools chief changes party affiliation to Democratic

One of the worst-kept secrets in Indiana politics officially is out of the bag — Jennifer McCormick is a Democrat.

The former state superintendent of public instruction confirmed Monday she no longer identifies with the Indiana Republican Party that nominated and elected her in 2016 to lead the Indiana Department of Education.

Go on patrol with Aaron Crawford, a Cpl. with the Lowell Police Department, as he speaks about joining the force, DUI enforcement grants, and police Jiu-jitsu training.

McCormick said she now realizes the values she held during her four years as state schools chief, including taking care of the whole child while pursuing academic excellence, only can be fulfilled by the Indiana Democratic Party.

"I know there are Republican voters across Indiana who believe in the ideas to fully fund our public schools and provide our educators the quality of life they deserve, but I have some advice for them: it'll be the Indiana Democrats — not Republican elected officials — who'll get it done."

She noted Indiana schools would not be receiving $2 billion in federal funds to speed their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic without Democratic President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan. Likewise, most of the additional money available for teacher pay hikes and other local education needs in the new state budget also would not be there absent the federal aid.

The American Rescue Plan was opposed by every Republican representing Indiana in Congress, including U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun.

McCormick's party switch was foreshadowed by her agreement last year to stay on at the Department of Education if Democratic Dr. Woody Myers was elected governor and won the right to appoint the first Indiana secretary of education.

In 2019, the Republican-controlled General Assembly decided to replace the elected state superintendent with a governor-appointed schools chief once McCormick's term expired.

McCormick also recently has been touring the state alongside other Democratic former elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and gubernatorial nominee John Gregg, touting the benefits of the American Rescue Plan for Hoosiers.

Mike Schmuhl, Indiana Democratic chairman, said it's "a privilege to have a respected and esteemed leader" like McCormick join the party.

"The reality is that for too long, our children have been handed an education that keeps them from reaching their full potential while our teachers have time and again been handed salaries that force them to take second jobs just to make ends meet," Schmuhl said.

"There's a lot of work ahead, but it’s inspiring to know that Indiana’s top educator is continuing her mission to maximize the potential of Indiana's education system as a Democrat."

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