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Former not-for-profit leader taking run at U.S. Senate

August 16, 2015

A political newcomer who has spent his career advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities announced Saturday he is running for the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Coats.

John Dickerson, the executive director of Indianapolis-based not-for-profit The Arc of Indiana from 1983 until stepping down last month to explore a run for office, said he thinks he'd be a good senator because he's worked at building coalitions.

"It's about how do we build a consensus," he said. "My history has been about finding that piece that we can agree on and begin to move forward."

Dickerson said three issues he wants to focus on are climate change, a strong economy and voting rights.

The 62-year-old Dickerson said he thinks being a first-time candidate will help him.

"I think people are looking for another type of voice. I hope people will pick me to be that voice," he said.

Dickerson, who remains a consultant with The Arc, is the second Democrat in the race. He joins former U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, who announced his candidacy in June.

U.S. Reps. Todd Young and Marlin Stutzman and former state GOP Chairman Eric Holcomb are seeking the Republican nomination.

Dickerson concedes he doesn't have the name recognition of some other candidates.

"We need to get out and let people know who I am and let them get to know me," he said. "We're going to run a very modern, digital campaign, but it is going to be very much an old-time campaign of reaching out to people and getting them to reach out to friends, family and folks they know."

Dickerson said he decided to run for Senate before Coats' announced in March he wouldn't seek re-election.

"This is the right time for me to put myself out there and say, I think we can do things differently," he said.

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