NEW: A statement was issued Monday by one of the candidates for Indiana Democratic Party Chair following the death of her son.
(You can read more from the release below.)
State Democratic Party Chair Candidate Trish Whitcomb has issued the following statement:
“It is with deep sorrow that I announce I am withdrawing my candidacy for State Democratic Party Chair. I experienced an unimaginable loss on Sunday when my son died unexpectedly. As any parent can imagine, there is no way I can continue my candidacy to become the next leader of the State Democratic Party.
“I will continue to work with the party in the future to ensure we have strong candidates and campaigns in any capacity that I can. I appreciate the opportunity to run and wish the next Chair all the best.”
The Indiana Democratic Party will choose a new state chair on March 20, as current head John Zody steps down after eight years at the helm.
But what, exactly, is the state chair of a political party responsible for?
University of Indianapolis political scientist Laura Wilson said state party chair is a difficult but vital position. Most people experience their influence primarily through elections: state party chairs help identify and recruit candidates. And Wilson said they also direct money.
“You only have so many resources, so where that money goes – even in terms of where the talent, where you’re encouraging people to hire … they’re influential in the organization of campaigns themselves,” Wilson said.
Wilson said becoming the new chair of Indiana Democrats will bring both great pressure and opportunity for a party that is struggling to maintain relevance statewide.
“They need to be able to provide a new focus," Wilson said. "A lot of the messaging that the Democratic candidates have had recently hasn’t been resonating with Hoosier voters … probably also mobilizing people and motivating them.”