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Posted on Sun. Jan. 13, 2013 - 12:01 am EDT

Democrats urged to ‘D up’

County chairman touts party’s success, encourages ‘hard work’

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FORT WAYNE — Ahmed Abdelmageed plans on volunteering and being an active member of the Allen County Democratic Party, gearing up for the first election for which he will be able to cast a vote.

Abdelmageed, who moved to the area in the past year, is originally from Palestine and recently obtained his U.S. citizenship.

Abdelmageed along with his wife and two young children were among about 100 party supporters and elected officials such as Mayor Tom Henry to attend a breakfast Saturday at the party’s headquarters at 7301 Decatur Road.

Allen County Democratic Party Chairman John Court also gave the State of the Party speech at the event. Court is encouraging local Democrats like Abdelmageed to “D up” in the upcoming election offseason by volunteering, raising money and bringing others to participate in the party events.

“There’s no secret to this playbook, just hard work,” he said.

Court highlighted some successes of the local Democratic Party, coming off an election that put a Democrat in the White House for another term and sent Democrat Joe Donnelly to the U.S. Senate.

“We didn’t win every race, but we didn’t lose every race either,” Court said.

One big loss was the end of Win Moses’ 36-year political career by newcomer Martin Carbaugh for the 81st District House seat. Court said Democrats will be “forever grateful that (Moses) sought a path of public service.”

An important race won by a Democrat was Glenda Ritz’s defeat of Tony Bennett to become Superintendent of Public Instruction, Court said.

“Leave it to teachers to teach us the political lesson of a lifetime,” Court said of the grass-roots campaign Ritz led to win the election.

But Allen County Republican Chairman Steve Shine said Democrats couldn’t have won that race by themselves and did so only with the support of the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Shine also said Donnelly won less on his own merit and more because of an unfortunate mistake made by his opponent, Richard Mourdock. During a debate, Mourdock made comments about rape and pregnancy that caused him to lose some support in the state. Shine also pointed out that while Donnelly won the entire state, Mourdock won by a significant margin in Allen County.

During his speech, Court also touted the success of the state Democratic convention in Fort Wayne in June, saying Democrats were the first party to conduct a convention outside of Indianapolis. He said since the convention, the party increased its precinct roster by 20 percent for the last election. Court hopes to continue to move forward and increase membership in the local party.

He is also hopeful the state Democratic convention will return to the city but said it is unlikely in the next two years. He also mentioned the possibility of Indiana becoming a swing state in coming years, a possibility Shine disputed, calling it “highly unlikely” Indiana would ever “be anything but a red state.”

Shine said the Republican Party will continue to dominate Allen County as it has for the entirety of his chairmanship. He pointed to several key seats at the city, county and state levels that Republicans took from Democrats in the previous three elections, including Moses’ seat.

“In the county, Republicans had no losses, a tribute to the growing strength of the Allen County Republican Party,” he said.

But Court remains optimistic about his party’s future and thanked local supporters for their work making phone calls and knocking on doors in the days and weeks leading up to the November election. Court also announced he will seek another term as chairman of the county party.

Abdelmageed, meanwhile, said he looks forward to volunteering for the Allen County Democratic Party.

He said he believes that Democrats have a more open platform, where his religious affiliation isn’t a hindrance. He said he has felt welcomed into the local party.

Jane Till, a longtime Democrat and attendee at Saturday’s event, said Court’s enthusiasm and dedication to the party has made a difference for her.

“It kind of stirs you up inside,” she said. “He gives us a lot of hope, despite not winning every election.”

sarah.janssen@jg.net


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