A Bloomington Township board member running for city council is facing backlash from the Monroe County Democratic Party for filing as an independent candidate in the race.
During a Monday evening meeting, a group of of the county party’s precinct chairs and board members discussed publicly denouncing Marty Spechler, who serves on the township board as a Democrat, for his independent run for Bloomington City Council District 3.
Many members also stressed making a stronger party push or public statement of renewed support for District 3’s Democratic nominee, Ron Smith. They said Spechler's ties to the party might be confusing to voters since he is not endorsed by the Democrats, although he tried to convince them to back him.
Spechler said he still considers himself a moderate Democrat and is only running independently because he missed the deadline to file with the party.
“I’ve been a Democrat all my life,” Spechler said.
Spechler originally supported Jim Blickensdorf for the nomination, he said. Blickensdorf withdrew from the race in March after the Herald-Times reported on lawsuits related to a Bedford, Indiana, strip club he purchased.
Because Blickensdorf dropped out, Spechler said he thought he would be the next-best person for the job. He previously served as a council member from 2012 to 2016.
“It’s an anytime job,” Spechler said. “I’m a person who’s available anytime.”
Randy Paul, formerly the precinct vice chair for Bloomington 21, resigned from his position last week after he heard Spechler’s campaign was being questioned. It was the breaking point after a string of growing issues Paul said he’s seen in the party over the years.
Paul said in a Saturday interview it seemed like the party didn’t understand Spechler was running independently because of deadlines and that Spechler’s political beliefs weren’t in question.
“He’s never left the Democratic party,” Paul said.
Paul originally said he believed the Democrats would try to push Spechler to resign from his township position. On Monday, meeting leaders made it clear that they could not force Spechler to resign and said they weren’t asking him to.
However, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton, who attended the meeting as chair of the Perry 14 precinct, said he thought resignation was the right move for Spechler.
Hamilton said Spechler was elected as a Democrat and is now not running as one, and he had an equal opportunity to register for the original party deadline even though he chose not to because of Blickensdorf’s candidacy.
“I’m a party person,” Hamilton said. “I think parties are important.”
No decisions were made at the meeting. Some members were not able to attend or comment, and officers were still considering who would be involved in the final process.
Smith, also present at the meeting, said he thought it was important to continue acknowledging that he is the Democratic nominee but wasn’t entirely opposed to Spechler continuing his campaign.
“I’ve thought a lot about this in the last week or so, and I have no problem with Marty running,” Smith said. “Let the voters decide.”