Editor’s note: Shortly after this story was published Wednesday morning, candidate Karlee Macer withdrew from the race for Indiana Democratic Party chair, citing an undisclosed “family medical emergency.”
Another Democrat has formally jumped into the race for state party chair.
Trish Whitcomb, who served as the campaign manager for former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz in 2012, announced Wednesday that she would be seeking the position.
“I have the experience and the skills that the party needs right now,” Whitcomb said.
Former state lawmaker Karlee Macer is also running for the position.
John Zody, who has been party chair since 2013, announced in November that he would retire when his term expires in March.
Whitcomb, 67, is the daughter of former Indiana Gov. Edgar Whitcomb, a Republican who served from 1969 to 1973.
“Some people ask me why I am not a Republican and instead choose to be a Democrat, and my response to that is the Republican party in which my father served is not the Republican party of today,” Whitcomb said.
She said as party chair she would focus on four things—providing support at the county and precinct level, building stronger relationships with community groups, improving communication throughout different levels of the party and administering party functions efficiently.
“We need to improve communications vertically and horizontally so that if folks at the precinct level have information or need resources, and the county party can’t address those needs immediately, there may be a way that the district organization or the state party could help,” Whitcomb said.
Democrats have struggled in recent elections, losing the governor’s race, the attorney general’s race and the 5th Congressional District in 2020, even though political pundits believed the district was leaning Democratic.
One bright spot for the party last year was picking up one seat in the Indiana Senate, but the party lost four seats in the Indiana House, which allowed Republicans to strengthen their supermajority.
Democrats haven’t controlled a statewide elected office since 2018, when then-U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly lost his seat. In 2016, the party lost the governor’s race, the U.S. Senate race and the superintendent of public instruction race. In 2014, Democrats lost in three statewide races.
Whitcomb said she thinks it’s possible for the party to win statewide again and to take back some seats in the Indiana General Assembly.
“I think there are people in Indiana we can reach with a positive message of how better government will positively impact their lives,” Whitcomb said.