Primary 2016: How Hillary and Bernie are campaigning in the Hoosier state 

click to enlarge The Bernie Sanders Indianapolis office is located in Broad Ripple. - AMBER STEARNS
  • The Bernie Sanders Indianapolis office is located in Broad Ripple.
  • Amber Stearns

With less than a week until the Indianapolis primary date, candidates from both parties are opening offices in the state. Sen. Bernie Sanders' office can be found tucked away in a little house in Broad Ripple at 6367 Guilford Ave., while former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton's Indianapolis office can be found at 7225 N. Keystone Ave., a big open space that provides the perfect location for campaign events.

Being late in the game, the Indiana primary has rarely been seen as an important and campaign-altering time in the election season. Hillary for Indiana Communications Director Stephanie Formas said that Clinton has an "insurmountable" delegate lead over Sanders. But between the combination of the momentum Sanders has gained over the last few months and the fact that Indiana is the only primary that week, all eyes are expected to be on Indiana.

Carli Stevenson, the Indiana spokesperson for the Sanders campaign, admitted that the early state primaries are important and exciting. But regardless of that, she thinks everyone's voice should matter in this stage of the race.

"Everyone should be able to have a say," said Stevenson. "Campaigns shouldn't just be decided by people in a handful of states."

Clinton took the Indiana primary back in 2008. However, the Sanders team is making it clear that they're here to win and don't plan to stop short of that.

Stevenson even referred to the Sanders campaign as a "scrappy little campaign."

At the start of his campaign last year, Sanders was virtually unknown. According to Stevenson, Sanders had 3 percent name recognition at the start of his campaigning. But his campaign quickly made him one of the front-runners for the democratic nomination.

Everyday people — people who give what they can to make his campaign happen — fund the Sanders campaign. Stevenson said that people trust Sanders when he says he will fight against the big corporations because they see that he isn't funded by those corporations.

"We want your donations because we're not funded by lobbyists," Stevenson said. "But your time is just as important as your vote and your donations."

Stevenson said that the Sanders team would be foolish to ignore the challenge of running against the experience of Clinton. So the Sanders team has set out to educate and inform the community about Sanders and his plans for the presidency. They've had hundreds of volunteers in the Indianapolis area alone phone banking and canvassing the city. Stevenson said that there's value in making connections with people and that's the best way to teach them about Sanders.

And the Clinton team is doing community outreach as well by holding events to watch the debate, phone banking, and reaching out to the state's citizens. In addition to that, Clinton has also received the support and early votes of many leaders in Indiana.

click to enlarge Inside he Hillary Clinton campaign office in Indianapolis on Keystone Avenue. - AMBER STEARNS
  • Inside he Hillary Clinton campaign office in Indianapolis on Keystone Avenue.
  • Amber Stearns

State leaders from Rep. Andre Carson to Sen. Joe Donnelly announced their support of Clinton by voting early. Hillary for Indiana announced the support of more than 20 state legislators last week. In addition, Jim Clyburn along with other African American state leaders launched African Americans for Hillary earlier this week, as well. Former governor Evan Bayh has even announced his support of Clinton and will be campaigning for her throughout southern Indiana.  

"A broad coalition of Democrats have given Hillary Clinton a nearly insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, but she's working hard to earn the support of voters in every corner of Indiana,"

Formas wrote. "We're fighting for every vote by talking to Hoosiers about why Hillary Clinton is the only candidate in this race who will break down the barriers that hold people back and deliver real results. Headed into the May 3 primary, our volunteers and supporters are knocking on doors and hitting the phones to share with friends, family, and neighbors Hillary Clinton's plans to protect Indiana's jobs, grow manufacturing, and make education affordable from cradle to college."

The controversy in Indiana regarding Gov. Mike Pence's newly passed abortion law has made Indiana a trending topic on social media and in the political campaign. According to Stevenson, Sanders was the first candidate to speak out against Pence's bill, tweeting "The decision to have an abortion is for a woman to make, not the governor of Indiana."

Clinton also released a statement saying, "I am honored by the support of Planned Parenthood Action Fund but even more grateful for the work Planned Parenthood health centers do every day to ensure women have access to quality affordable health care regardless of zip code or background. Their work is critically important, especially in a state like Indiana where Republicans have worked doggedly to infringe on women's health care decisions. The latest attempt by Governor Pence to interfere with personal medical decisions, which should be left to a woman and her doctor, is wrong, plain and simple. As president I will fight to expand access to women's health care and take on anyone who tries to restrict it."  

Both candidates are prominent supporters of women's rights and equality. And with Hoosiers in upheaval over Pence's bill, one can only wonder if it's enough to change the political color of the state.

The five primaries leading up to Indiana's will ultimately make or break the relevancy of the Indiana contest. Typically, this late in the game, a candidate already has enough delegate votes to clinch the nomination. However, both Democratic candidates — and their supporters — are putting up a tough fight during this election season.

Formas said that the stakes are high in this election and the best thing citizens can do is to vote.


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