It took two years longer than he expected but Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. now has an actual shot at serving in Congress.
The five-term leader of Lake County's most populous city won Indiana's Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate Tuesday. He will face U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., and Libertarian James Sceniak in the Nov. 8 general election for a six-year term.
Both McDermott and Young were unopposed in their party's primary contest after their potential opponents were denied ballot slots by the Indiana Election Commission in March for failing to obtain the 500 signatures needed in each of the state's nine congressional districts to qualify for the race.
Despite his guaranteed primary victory, McDermott hasn't been taking it easy. He and his team already have campaigned in 67 of the state's 92 counties, including repeat trips to many of Indiana's largest cities and towns.
People are also reading…
McDermott also attracted national attention last month by smoking marijuana, on video, in a campaign ad recorded in Illinois, where marijuana is legal, in an effort to cut across party lines and reach Hoosier voters who value freedom over Republican social policies.
Federal campaign finance records show Young has a commanding lead over McDermott in terms of fundraising with more than $5 million in the bank compared to less than $1 million for the Democrat.
That huge pile of money so far has enabled Young to largely ignore McDermott, instead of responding to McDermott's repeated condemnation of Young's decisions to vote against billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief and infrastructure funding for Indiana, its communities and schools.
At the same time, Young lacks the endorsement of Republican former President Donald Trump, which could depress GOP turnout in the fall election, though Young's campaign suggested Monday they don't need Trump to win.
McDermott is not so sure. He's confident Young's expected strategy of relying on high-priced television ads to sell himself to voters, instead of holding town hall meetings and speaking to Hoosiers where they are, ultimately will backfire.
"I tell you what, if I'm your senator I'm going to go to every district — I don't care if it's a Republican district or a Democratic district — and I'm going to work hard there, and if I don't win that district in 2022 when I become your senator, I'm going to win it six years later because they're going to respect me because I'm not afraid to tell you the truth," McDermott said.
McDermott last competed in 2020 for Northwest Indiana's Democratic U.S. House nomination. He lost by 4,149 votes in a 14-candidate field to now-U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, D-Highland.
Gallery: Get to know the state symbols of Indiana
State Aircraft: Republic Aviation P-47 Thunderbolt
State Bird: Cardinal
State Flower: Peony
State Fossil: Mastodon
State Gun: Grouseland Rifle
State Insect: Say's Firefly
State Language: English
State Motto: "Crossroads of America"
State Nickname: The Hoosier State
State Pie: Sugar Cream Pie (unofficial)
State Poem: "Indiana"
State River: Wabash
State Snack: Indiana-Grown Popcorn
State Song: "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away"
State Stone: Limestone
State Tree: Tulip tree
In this Series
Primary election recap: An indicted sheriff cruises to victory, an incumbent loses and referendums pass
WATCH NOW: Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. wins Democratic nomination for re-election
WATCH NOW: Congressman Mrvan celebrates primary election victory
McDermott wins Democratic U.S. Senate nod, will face Sen. Young in November
- 23 updates