By Erick Johnson, Gary Crusader
On a wild election day primary in Indiana, voters in Lake County stood behind two ambitious candidates seeking to follow in the footsteps of household names while many supported a defiant Bernie Sanders, who coasted to victory against presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
It was a day of twists and turns in Indiana as the nation watched Donald Trump become the presumptive Republican nominee as his sole viable opponent Ted Cruz dropped out of the race after a crushing defeat.
In the Democratic race for governor, John R. Gregg automatically won after running unopposed. He will face incumbent Governor Mike Pence, who also ran opposed and won the Republican race.
Meanwhile, Eddie Melton took a big step in succeeding retiring State Senator Earline Rogers (D-3) after beating challenger Darren Washington in a race that was fraught with controversy. Another victorious candidate, Earl L. Harris Jr. is closer to becoming part of a political family in his win for the State Representative District 2 seat.
Veteran State Representative Charlie Brown, who has served District 3 for 34 years, also won his primary race, along with Vernon Smith for State Representative (District 14). Peter J. Visclosky won his primary race for U.S. Representative (District 1) and is closer to being reelected for the 17th time.
In a surprise victory, newcomer Marissa McDermott won the race for Judge of the Circuit Court against six-year veteran George C. Paras.
In the race for County Recorder, Mike Brown easily won the Democratic side.
Brown and all winning Democratic candidates now head to the General Election on Nov. 8 where they will run against Republican nominees.
In one of few non-partisan races, Merrilee D. Frey was reelected as Lake County Coroner.
Melton’s convincing win against challenger, Darren Washington, who earlier in the day asked Lake County Election officials to order his opponent to stop distributing a slate of candidates to voters as they headed to the polls. Washington claimed Melton’s slate was illegal because he received more votes (59) from the Democratic Committee precinct organization than his opponent, who received 20.
In his campaign, Washington expressed concern that Melton will not serve the residents in Hammond as much those in Gary. Melton was endorsed by Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Rogers, who’s retiring after 34 years in Indiana politics.
Melton gained prominence as a member of the State Board of Education. A Roosevelt graduate, he has help address the storied school’s academic struggles and future as Gary’s only predominately Black institution.
While her loss to Sanders was disappointing, Clinton is still in good shape to capture the Democratic nomination. Though she lost the Indiana primary, Clinton won the majority of votes that were cast in Lake County, according to the latest results.
Despite Sanders, win on Tuesday, mathematically, its impossible for the Vermont Senator to overtake his opponent with just 13 more state primaries or caucuses to go.
In the delegate race, Clinton is just 181 delegates from clinching the Democratic nomination for president. She campaigned briefly in Lake County last week, visiting workers at Munster Steel Co. in Hammond. After a day in the Hoosier state, Clinton stomped through West Virginia and Kentucky as both states prepare to hold their primaries in the coming weeks. Confident that she has the Democratic nomination wrapped up, Clinton redirected her focus to the Nov. 8 General Election criticizing Trump’s policies and lack of experience to lead the nation.