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Flip of calendar means campaign season soon to be in full swing

January 04, 2012
As the door is opened to a new year, most people are already aware that 2012 is an election year. Republicans who hope to challenge President Barack Obama for the White House have been on the campaign trail for months, fighting for the front-runner status that has been changing almost week to week.

Filing for political offices in Indiana begins Jan. 11. But several candidates have already made their intentions known. The race to replace outgoing Gov. Mitch Daniels includes Democrats John Gregg, former speaker of the House, and Thomas Lenfert and Republicans Mike Pence, a former U.S. congressman, and Jim Wallace. Libertarian Rupert Boneham, a former contestant on the TV show "Survivor," is also running.

Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar also is facing several opponents. Republican Richard Murdock, a Tea Party favorite, Democrat Joe Donnelly, Independent Jack Rooney and Libertarian Andy Horning all plan to file.

Indiana District 74, which now includes all of Crawford County, will be voting for the state representative seat held by Republican Sue Ellspermann of Ferdinand. Michael (Mike) Schriefer, a Democrat from Santa Claus, has already announced his intention to run. Schriefer is a former teacher, principal and school superintendent. Ellspermann, a strong advocate for the Right to Work bill that will be considered by lawmakers, may face substantial opposition due to the strong union ties of Crawford and surrounding counties. Many believe it is another tool that can be used to break unions.

"I totally support worker's rights," said Dan Crecelius, Crawford County District 1 commissioner and former chairman of the county's Republican party. "And Right to Work is wrong. I think this issue could hurt Sue Ellspermann. She has other good qualities, but she's not looking at the bigger picture, and there's a lot to look at.

"In the Right to Work states, including Oklahoma, the latest one, Right to Work has been very detrimental to workers. The standard of living has gone down. We don't need that in Indiana. In the last several years, I believe Republicans have made a lot of progress with workers and labor unions, and that's something I've wanted to happen. But they're on the wrong side with this issue. Our standard of living wouldn't be what it is today without unions. The labor movement brought us safer workplaces, weekends off, holidays, better wages, pensions, 40-hour workweek. Why should we not have those things? Unions have made this country strong. Not all Republicans support Right to Work, and Sue Ellspermann should consider that."

Ellspermann now represents an area that was once part of District 73, long represented by Democrats Dennis Heeke and Crawford County's Dennie Oxley II.

The U.S. Congressional seat in District 9, now held by Republican Todd Young, is also up for grabs. Democrats Jonathan George, a retired USAF Brigadier General, and Robert Winningham, a former congressional aid to Lee Hamilton, who held the seat from 1965 to 1999, will be vying for the primary nod to challenge Young in the fall.

In Crawford County races, at-large council seats currently held by Democrats Doug McLain, Bill Breeden and Jerry Brewer are up.

Two commissioner seats will be in play this year, as Randy Gilmore and Jim Schultz, who represent Districts 2 and 3, respectively, will both have to campaign.

The Crawford County Community School Corp. Board of Trustees will have three at-large seats up for grabs. The seats are now held by Tim Jellison, Debbie Kaiser and Lee Holzbog.

In the Crawford County courthouse, the treasurer's and surveyor's jobs will be open.

The deadline for filing for office is Feb. 21, and the primary election will be May 8.

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