By Andi TenBarge
To former Indiana Rep. Dennis Avery, Bernie Sanders “brought new blood into the party.”
“I think a lot of these young people you see in this room today, they’re going to stay in the party,” he said during an interview at the Democratic National Convention where he is serving as a delegate.
The former presidential candidate sparked a movement among some voters. During his primary campaign, Sanders touted his ideas to reform campaign finance laws, make state colleges tuition free and create a universal health care program. They are issues, Avery said, that energized young voters across the country and caused them to jump into the political arena.
“There are a lot of young people that were involved in the Bernie Sanders campaign and they were not necessarily Democrats,” Avery said. “Some people had never voted in their lives and Bernie Sanders excited them about his campaign for the working person.”
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said he is working to keep voters who were engaged in the Sanders campaign to stay in the Democratic Party.
“We want those folks to find a niche in the Democratic Party,” Zody said. “So that when we move forward into the fall, we are going to have people who are excited to elect Democrats, not just Hillary Clinton as president, but Democrats in Indiana.”
Zody said the state also party needs to focus on getting people interested in competitive races going on in Indiana. He said voter turnout is what’s going to influence smaller local races in November.
“We want people to understand the importance of electing John Gregg as Governor and Evan Bayh in the U.S. Senate and the presidential race will come along accordingly,” Zody said.
Avery said he sees the movement among young Sanders supporters as a way for them to also jump into politics first hand.
“They’re going to run for office themselves one day and they’re going to step in and fill voids that are created as older people leave,” Avery said. “I retired from he legislature in 2010 myself and there’ll be young people who step into that void.”