by Mitchell Kirk
Cass County Democrats vowed to remain strong at the group’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday night, having come out of 2012 with a senatorial victory and a gubernatorial loss.
Sen. Joe Donnelly, who recently joined the U.S. Senate after six years in the House of Representatives, took the stage as the crowd of around 130 at the Cass County Memorial Home chanted his name.
Donnelly thanked the Democrats for their support in his recent and previous campaigns.
“I can tell you one thing, I would not have ever been congressman or ever been senator if it wasn’t for Cass County, Indiana,” Donnelly said to an uproar of applause. “I never would have had this chance if it wasn’t for all of you, for all our counties, Miami, Clinton, Cass, Carroll and all of you in this region.”
Donnelly went on to commend his supporters in the region for contributing to what he feels is a recovering local economy, citing the recent and upcoming developments with the Chrysler plant in Kokomo.
“We went from 5,000 people working in those plants at Chrysler to less than 50 in 2009 and as of next week, I think the number is going to state that we’ve gone from 50 to 6,500,” Donnelly said. “Over the last four years we have dug out of one of the biggest economic holes in the history of our country and we have jobs coming back to Indiana every month.”
Donnelly added that the Chrysler plant will be continuing this trend by announcing 1,300 new jobs soon. This localized approach, Donnelly said, trumps politics on the national level.
“There’s more wisdom in Indiana than there is in Washington, D.C. any day of the week,” he said.
While Cass County Democrats saw a victory from Donnelly, the same could not be said for gubernatorial candidate John Gregg, who lost to Republican Gov. Mike Pence last November.
Gregg began his address by thanking county Democrats for supporting his campaign and urged them to continue their efforts in the future.
“What we were fighting for is still important and we can’t quit,” Gregg said.
Gregg said it was the backing of Democrats like the ones in Cass County that led to an extremely tight race with Pence, adding that the governor outspent his campaign by $10 million.
“Because of your efforts, we ran the closest governor’s election in over 50 years,” Gregg said. “That’s you guys. When it’s all said and done, our current governor is the first governor since the Civil War to have less than 50 percent of the vote.”
While attendance was about 70 less than last year’s dinner, Cass County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Ulerick said he was still pleased with the turnout.
“For a non-election year, this is a great group,” Ulerick said.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or email@example.com.
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