Democrats dominated the local election. They took all three at-large county council seats and both county commissioner districts. The party also secured the county surveyor, coroner, treasurer and auditor’s office. Democrats also won one of the three open Monroe Circuit Court seats.
Rick Dietz, chair of the Monroe County Democrats, called Monroe County a bright blue beacon in a deep red state government on a post to his party online.
IU College Democrats President Chris Babcock said he was also pleased with Bloomington and Monroe County election results.
“I was really satisfied with the way the local county and city races broke down,” Babcock said. “We were very successful there.”
Election 2012 was not kind to state Democratic candidates. Republicans now form a supermajority in the Indiana General Assembly. Democrats maintained their hold in the Senate and lost nine seats in the House.
“We lost strong seasoned representation in the House and Senate,” Dietz said. “Matt Pierce and Mark Stoops will do a great job representing us, but the loss of Peggy Welch and Vi Simpson will be significant.”
In the U.S. Congressional 9th District, which includes Bloomington, incumbent Rep. Todd Young, R-9th District, held off Democratic challenger Shelli Yoder.
“That was not entirely unexpected, it was just the case where we didn’t know how close it was,” Babcock said. “With congressional races, you don’t get a lot of polling to base the state of the race on. That being said, we were really enthusiastic. Everybody was working so hard.”
Jennifer Wagner, spokesperson for the Indiana Democratic Party, said victories like that by Glenda Ritz, superintendent of public instruction-elect, were good for state progress. But given the Republican supermajority in the state house, Democrats will need to work with Republicans to get any of their agenda items passed.
“It depends on where you are in Indiana, but I think there are some liberal Democrats in the caucus,” Wagner said. “But by and large you have moderate Democrats that are willing to work across the aisle.”
And while Democrats lost the gubernatorial race, they did have a victory in the U.S. Senate race with Sen.-elect Joe Donnelly.
“To me, it was a huge victory for us,” Wagner said. “He’s going to become, potentially, a head of the party.”
Even in an increasingly red Indiana, Democratic Party members have hope.
“It’s certainly very emotional,” Babcock said. “You invest a lot physically, emotionally, sometimes financially to work to help elect someone into office. Luckily, not every aspect Tuesday night was a letdown. But every time you get a defeat like that you try to take a step back, tell yourself you did the best you could. We had some good victories.”
Wagner said she doesn’t know what the next four years will bring, but she knows both sides will have to work together.
“There is a middle ground,” Wagner said. “We’re not going to give up and assume Republicans are going to win forever. Our 2014 campaign started on Wednesday.”
Democrats maintain local control, lose state races