(SOUTH BEND, Ind.) — Indiana’s new Democratic chairman is banking on Trump fatigue and
President Biden’s popularity to help revive the party in the state.
Mike Schmuhl takes command of a party which hasn’t just been losing, but hasn’t even been
close. Democrats haven’t won a statewide race in nine years, haven’t flipped a U.S. House seat in
15, and have been a superminority in the state House and Senate since 2012. Last year, Biden
lost all but 15 counties by more than 20 points, while Woody Myers posted the lowest vote share
and largest margin of defeat of any Democratic nominee for governor in Indiana history.
Schmuhl traces much of the party’s recent struggles to Trump’s success in nationalizing party
politics. He says Trump tapped into a sense of grievance that boxed out Democrats at all levels.
But Schmuhl says he believes “the fever is breaking.” He suggests voters are “exhausted” by four
years of constant partisan combat, and says Biden’s success in passing a pandemic relief bill
and accelerating the pace of vaccinations will translate into a change in people’s feelings toward
Schmuhl, who managed the presidential campaign of Transportation Secretary and former South
Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, says rebuilding won’t happen overnight. He says Democrats need to
be more visible at the local level, and build their bench of future candidates through victories in
local races. And Schmuhl says he’ll work to increase the state party’s manpower, and create more
unified messaging across local and district parties and House and Senate Democrats.