A long-time Democrat political activist is back into the games. Dave Crooks, who at one time served as a state representative, a congressional candidate and Daviess County Democrat Party Chairman has been elected as the new Democrat Eighth District Party Chairman.
“I have always enjoyed politics despite some of the things that are sometimes distasteful to all of us,” said Crooks. “What happened was my phone started ringing a couple of weeks ago that the chair of the eighth district had resigned and asking me to consider running for chairman.”
Crooks says at first he was not inclined to get involved, but as the calls continued he began to reach out to old political friends and felt encouraged to make a run.
“I thought about it for four days and the next thing I knew I was calling county chairs and vice-chairs and counted votes and made the pitch that I was a candidate,” he said. “I also reached out to Cheryl Schultz, who is chairman in Vanderburg County, who felt the party needed a change and she agreed to be my vice chair. By then I had the support of the largest and second largest counties in the district and many of the chairs and vice chairs in other counties to do this.”
Crooks says he wants to bring some competitiveness back to Indiana’s elections.
“I’m going to try and bring everyone together,” he said. “We need to have some balance and a competitive two-party system in the state. The one-party dominance in Indiana is not what our forefathers intended when they built a system that is full of checks and balances. Right now, the Republicans have a big old Mack truck that has been running through the state since 2010 and the Democrats can’t seem to stop it. I want us to bring in good candidates with good ideas that can get elected.”
Crooks takes over the chairmanship in the district from Thomasina Marsili, who had also run unsuccessful campaigns for congress and state representative. Marsili resigned the chairmanship and then when Crooks announced he was interested, she decided to seek the post again, but Crooks won the recent caucus.
“There is a realignment of the parties nationally, and locally,” said Crooks. “I believe Democrats can make some gains in Daviess and other counties if we get better candidates and some improved messaging from Democrats nationally. We are at a very strange and unique time in American history where the very narrow, extreme parts of each party are running the show. You have 10% of the Republicans in a whole different reality and some on the Democratic side that could never get votes in southwest Indiana. We need to find a way to bridge that 80% in the middle. We just can’t keep letting them win by default. I think we need to make both parties better and I am making it my job to make the Democrat party better.”
As the new Eighth District Democrat Chairman, Crooks says he needs to get busy working on the upcoming mayoral and council elections.
“That’s the number one priority,” he said. “The eighth district has 11 Democrat mayors to defend this year and that is more than any district in the state. Democrats still have some clout left on the municipal level and we need to defend people like Dave Rhoads in Washington who is looking for another term. We have a lot to defend and the party is getting more organized and we are beginning to appeal to people who feel the Republican party has become too extreme.”
Beyond the local elections though the new district chairman says Democrats need to get organized and take on some of the state wide challenges that are on the horizon.
“We need a good nominee to replace Mike Braun next year in the senate,” said Crooks. “We do not want this to be a cake walk for a guy like Jim Banks who still denies election results and has conspiracy theories on his mind more than the real issues in Indiana and across the country. We also need to come up with a great gubernatorial candidate and I think one of those possible rising stars is former Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick.”
Crooks says at this point he sees his job as pretty simple.
“I need to improve our message and make sure it gets out to the public,” he said. “We have no where to go but up now.”
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