HAMMOND — Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. is optimistic a competitive race this year for Northwest Indiana's U.S. House seat will boost his campaign to represent the state of Indiana in the U.S. Senate.
The five-term Democratic leader of Lake County's most populous city said Friday on his "Left of Center" podcast he potentially could benefit the most by former LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo seeking the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, D-Highland.
McDermott said he's confident Milo will have sufficient Republican Party support to win the May 3 GOP primary and meet Mrvan in the Nov. 8 general election.
But McDermott also is certain Mrvan will prevail over Milo on Election Day.
"Northwest Indiana is not going to lose Frank Mrvan as their congressman. We're going to win this race," McDermott said. "Frank will beat her two-to-one."
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At the same time, McDermott said this will be the first real campaign in years for Northwest Indiana's U.S. House seat that features experienced, electable candidates on both the Democratic and Republican tickets.
"I think Blair is the most qualified candidate on the Republican side to run for this office in the last three decades," McDermott said. "That's good for me too."
McDermott explained that a competitive House race in Lake, Porter, and northwestern LaPorte counties will bring out many more Democratic Northwest Indiana voters than if Mrvan simply was cruising to a second-term victory over perennial GOP nominee Mark Leyva, or any of the other potential Republican candidates.
He said that big turnout of Northwest Indiana voters casting their ballots for Mrvan also is likely to vote for McDermott in the U.S. Senate race, giving him a fighting chance against incumbent U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.
"The Region is going to show up to reelect Frank Mrvan, and we're going to vote in full numbers in November — and we don't do that often," McDermott said. "Todd Young — If you had anything to do with this you (fouled) up, man. Big time.
"We're going to show up in force and we're going to vote."
Specifically, McDermott said the crafty redrawing of the 1st Congressional District last year by the Republican-controlled Indiana General Assembly and Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, a longstanding Milo ally, to bring a key portion of Milo's hometown of LaPorte into the district could end up backfiring if the competitive House race helps McDermott topple Young in the Senate contest.
That prompted McDermott and podcast co-host Kevin Smith to chuckle at Young's potential defeat coming at least in part because of the actions of Hoosier Republicans manipulating the redistricting process without considering all the potential consequences.
"They weren't thinking about Todd Young. Which makes me laugh. It's like, Todd, you ain't on the radar big guy," McDermott said. "Todd Young, what your team did to you, is they just took the second-largest voting block in the state of Indiana and got 'em galvanized and fired up to support Frank Mrvan for Congress.
"Todd Young, you got screwed. Your own party screwed you."
The Young campaign declined to comment on McDermott's interpretation of past events or predictions concerning future election outcomes.
Meanwhile, McDermott said he was disappointed to read in The Times that Milo is parroting Republican former President Donald Trump and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, a Munster native, in expressing doubt about the 2020 presidential election results.
McDermott said he can't believe Milo, a fellow U.S. Navy veteran, has "bought into the election bullshit."
He said her doing so makes him view Milo as someone different than the steady, rational, patriotic leader he knew when she was mayor of LaPorte.
"She knows better," McDermott said. "She's being fake. She's being Todd Rokita. You may get more votes being Todd Rokita. But she's not going to beat Frank Mrvan."