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Polling for U.S. Senate seat in Indiana is tight. Campaign contributions are worlds apart

Indiana Democratic Party Chair Mike Schmuhl says the party is speaking with national Democrats about bringing more funding into competitive races such as Tom McDermott’t.
Campaign photos for Todd Young and Tom McDermott
Courtesy of their respective campaigns
Indiana Democratic Party Chair Mike Schmuhl says the party is speaking with national Democrats about bringing more funding into competitive races such as Tom McDermott’t.

With Indiana’s general election roughly one month away, some polling shows Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tom McDermott in a tight race against incumbent Republican Sen. Todd Young.

But according to the group Open Secrets, which tracks money in politics, Young has raised over twenty times what McDermott has in political donations.

The next major Federal Election Commission deadline for reporting campaign contributions is Oct. 15. But currently, Open Secrets and the FEC show Young with a $13 million fundraising total and McDermott with just over $600,000.

Mike Schmuhl is chair of the Indiana Democratic Party. He said when it comes to funding, candidates are largely responsible for raising their own money. But he said the state party is having conversations with national Democrats about bringing more funding to McDermott’s race.

“Those conversations, just to be completely blunt, are ongoing,” he said. “I hope to have more of them in the days and weeks ahead.”

Schmuhl said in 2022, Democratic races in Indiana are receiving more funding relative to 2020 - which he said was weighted heavily towards Republicans.

“In 2020 there wasn’t as much money on our side,” he said. “This year, this cycle, I think we’re building that up to be more competitive. But it’s going to take time.”

According to Open Secrets, Indiana Republicans in national races have outraised Democrats roughly 2-1 so far during the 2022 cycle, with contributions to Democrats at roughly $12 million and Republicans at roughly $24 million.

In 2020 and 2018 Democrats raised roughly $41 million and $21 million, respectively, at the end of each election cycle. Republicans, by contrast, raised $28 million in 2018 and $52 million in 2020.

Schmuhl said the state party is also in conversations with national Democrats to bring more funding into other competitive state races, such as Destiny Wells’ race for Indiana Secretary of State.

“It’s a part of my job to be a conduit between those campaigns and other groups,” he said. “...but also candidates are really responsible for the bulk of their fundraising. They have to build their own campaigns, raise money for it, hire a team to have a professional operation.”

Schmuhl said one race that has already seen national funding from both Democrats and Republicans is the 1st Congressional District - currently represented by Democrat Frank Mrvan. He said the national parties are always trying to decide where to put their money in a way that will be the most strategic.

“That’s an instance where both parties kind of came in and got involved, and then the state parties get involved with coordinating those investments and those funds based on campaign finance rules,” he said.

In spite of the increasing amounts of money flowing towards political races, Schmuhl stressed: it’s not everything.

“I think that message is really important,” he said. “I think conversations are really important with voters. I think showing up is really important.”

The Indiana Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Copyright 2022 WBAA News. To see more, visit WBAA News.

Benjamin Thorp