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The Key District to Indiana

The District That May Decide Indiana

Hillary Clinton, Obama Barack

Supporters of Barack Obama attend a rally for the candidate in Evansville, Indiana.

John Sommers II / EPA

Next Tuesday’s primary in Indiana could decide the Democratic nomination: if Hillary Clinton can’t combine her post-Pennsylvania momentum and Barack Obama’s continuing pastor problems into a red-state victory, her aides concede privately that it would be difficult for her to continue. But polls show the state is still a toss-up, and both sides are focusing on one key battleground — the first Congressional district, which holds 20% to 25% of the likely Democratic primary vote.

Politics

Indiana Black Voters Feeling Ignored

The state’s African-American constituency remains strongly in Obama’s camp. But is the candidate taking them for granted?

The district, in the northwest part of the state, in theory should be Obama’s. It’s almost entirely in the Chicago media orbit (part of it is actually in the city’s metro area) and it has been exposed to Obama’s political career as long as any part of the country. It is disproportionately weighted to groups that support him, with 87% of the population urban and 18% of it African-American. The mayor of Gary, the largest city in the district, has endorsed Obama. And various parts of the local Democratic machine are turning it on for him. Clinton’s local surrogates just complained that Gary high schools have been using tax dollars to bus voting-aged kids to the polling places for early voting field trips over the last few weeks.

But Clinton is pushing back. In the southern and eastern portions of the district there’s a big contingent of blue-collar and union voters. Her famous whiskey shot was taken not in Pennsylvania, but in Crown Point, the seat of the district’s populous Lake County, and it targeted the current and former steel and auto workers who still live there. Following a winning tactic from Pennsylvania, she has signed up mayors of seven small to medium-size cities in the district, including the second and third largest ones. Tom McDermott, the mayor of Hammond, says she’s been on the phone with him frequently and knows his kids’ names. Bill and Hillary Clinton will together make more than four visits to the district before primary day.

The biggest reason for Clinton’s competitiveness in the state is her union strength, but she’s not impregnable on that score. The top union in Indiana is the United Auto Workers, but it previosuly backed Edwards in in its region #3, which covers Indiana and Kentucky, so the union is now officially neutral. And while the state’s UAW chief has appeared with Clinton at events, Obama has managed to poach his number two, Connie Thurman, who is the wife of the long-time region #3 UAW boss Terry Thurman. Most importantly, Obama has ensured that the union isn’t officially organizing for either side.  Link to full article in Time>>>

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