FORT WAYNE — Shelli Yoder felt right at home at her first Democratic Party state convention.
Yoder, the party’s candidate for Congress in southern Indiana’s 9th District, is a graduate of IPFW. While in Fort Wayne, the Bloomington resident drove by a house where she lived while working on her bachelor’s degree in interpersonal and public communications.
“What a great education I got from IPFW,” Yoder said Saturday in an interview at Grand Wayne Center, site of the convention. “I have such fond memories of living here. It’s such a great city.”
During her undergraduate years, the Shipshewana native worked at what was then the Hudson’s department store in Glenbrook Square.
“A lot of people from this area have recognized her,” said Katie Carlson, Yoder’s campaign manager. “They were excited to see her.”
Yoder, 43, is used to turning heads. She was Miss Indiana in 1992 and placed third in that year’s Miss America pageant.
“I wasn’t attracted to the pageantry. I was attracted to the Miss America program because it talks about the importance of being a well-rounded, well-informed citizen,” she said.
She later earned a master’s degree in counseling from Indiana University South Bend and a master’s in divinity from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. Yoder has been associate director of professional development at IU’s Kelley School of Business in Bloomington, but she left the job to campaign for Congress.
The mother of three faces first-term Republican Rep. Todd Young of Bloomington in the Nov. 6 general election. While her parents are Republicans, “my dad always talked about voting for the individual,” Yoder said.
She said she is a proponent for improving roads, bridges, railways and broadband communications in the 9th District, and she supports President Obama’s health care law.
Kevin Boyd, the Democratic congressional candidate in northeast Indiana, might have a problem with name recognition.
Rep. Andre Carson, D-7th, had the job of introducing his party’s congressional nominees during Saturday’s general session of the state convention.
When Carson came to the 3rd District candidate, he instructed delegates, “Let’s give it up for Tommy Schrader!”
Schrader finished a distant second to Boyd in the six-candidate field for the May 8 primary election.
“Boyd, Boyd!” delegates shouted at the stage.
Carson recovered quickly.
“Make some noise for Boyd,” he said. “We’ve got a staffer who’s going to do a hundred push-ups when this is over.”
Asked how the error could have been made, Ben Ray, press secretary for the state Democratic organization, said, “Your guess is as good as mine at this point.”
Schrader won an at-large nomination to Fort Wayne City Council in 2011 but was disqualified for the general election because he had registered to vote in Green Bay, Wis.
Before his misidentification, Boyd talked about what the convention meant to his campaign.
“I think it has energized our volunteers,” he said in an interview. “It’s gotten me in front of all the different groups in the Democratic Party, and we have gotten a great reception there.”
Boyd is challenging first-term Republican Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Howe in the general election.