The Monroe County Democratic Party announced in a Thursday release it will not denounce a township Democrat who is running independently for Bloomington City Council.
Marty Spechler’s campaign first faced debate among the county Democrats' Central Committee during an August meeting. Spechler, who serves on the Bloomington Township board as an elected Democrat, chose to run for Bloomington City Council District 3 as an independent after his preferred candidate dropped out too late for him to register for the Democratic primary.
Members of the party argued whether or not they should censure, or announce formal disapproval of, Spechler’s candidacy to make it clear Ron Smith is the Democratic nominee.
The statement says that under the state Democratic rules, a candidate "who renounces the party or switches to another party may be publicly denounced."
For now, Spechler will not be censured.
“At this time, Mr. Spechler has not labeled himself as a Democrat on his campaign literature for Bloomington City Council, despite previously and currently serving as a Democrat in an elected office,” the release said. “Should Mr. Spechler refer to himself as a Democrat in writing on his campaign literature, on his campaign social media page, or elsewhere, MCDP shall reconsider censure.”
Spechler said he sees the entire debate as totally unnecessary and believes the party is only doing this out of fear he will beat Smith.He said he thinks the voters should be the ones to decide which candidate is best instead of the Democrats trying to make a statement by denouncing him.
“If they had just let it go, things would have been fine,” Spechler said.
However, county party chair Jennifer Crossley said the issue is not about Spechler beating Smith but about making sure Spechler isn't saying he's a Democrat in his campaign literature.
"We don’t have a fear of him beating Ron at all, and we just wish him the best at getting the word out for him," Crossley said.
Despite the Democrats’ threat to reevaluate the decision on censure, Spechler said still he intends to call himself a moderate Democrat. He said he won’t try to pretend he is on the ballot under the party’s endorsement.
“Let them go ahead and censure me if that’s what they want,” Spechler said. “It just brings disrepute on the party.”
Randy Paul, who resigned from his position as precinct vice chair for Bloomington 21 when the issue over Spechler first arose, said he’s glad the Democrats are not censuring Spechler.
However, Paul said he feels the threat to possibly censure Spechler in the future is “foolish and heavy-handed” because Spechler still identifies with the Democratic party and its ideals.
“No one can tell Marty what’s in his heart,” Paul said.
Paul said the issue creates barriers for those who want to become involved with the Democrats, whether it be at the local or national level, and shows how the party tries to limit who can run and what people can say or do.
“It’s almost like they’re required to get a litmus test or loyalty oath to become part of the Democratic party,” Paul said.