Political group asks Indiana Democrats to vote in Republican Primary

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Are votes from Indiana Democrats more valuable in the Republican Primary?

A new political action committee, ReCenter Indiana, has put up billboards across the state reminding voters, "Even Democrats can vote in the Republican Primary". It's first billboard in South Bend went up this week.

The group claims to be a bipartisan effort to ensure more moderate candidates reach the general election. ReCenter has endorsed former Indiana Commerce Secretary Brad Chambers for Governor.

"There's quite a bit of apathy when people don't see a place where their vote actually can make a difference," President of ReCenter Indiana Adrianne Slash said in an interview with ABC57. "Because of how many candidates are in the field in the [gubernatorial] primary, you have a really great opportunity to make some impact by helping some folks see their way into the race."

Indiana has a "partially open" primary process. It allows voters to ask for either party's ballot but can essentially serve as registering with that party. 

Although, Republicans don't see the effort as a way to recruit more voters to the GOP.

"It is unfortunate that Democrats in Indiana can't win elections on the merit of their own policies so they have to resort to antics like this," Indiana GOP Press Secretary Griffin Reid told ABC57 in a statement. "This is a reminder that Republicans should come out to vote in this year's primary to ensure their voices are heard as we elect our party's nominees."

There are six candidates for the Republican nomination, while former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick is the sole candidate for Indiana Democrats. 

“Twenty years of one-party Republican administrations has our state going in the wrong direction, and we badly need more balance again in Indiana’s politics," Indiana Democratic Party Chair Mike Schmuhl told ABC57 in a statement, not directly criticizing or endorsing ReCenter's methods. “Jennifer is the only choice to get our state on the right track, both this May and in November.”

Despite ReCenter's endorsement for Chambers, Slash says the group is "focusing on the primary."

"So not necessarily telling people who to vote for in the fall at this time. But we are asking that they use their impact in the place where they can see the most difference," Slash said.

One potential pitfall for Democrats: By Indiana law, candidates need to be able to show they voted in their own party's last two primaries.

If ReCenter's efforts gain momentum, it threatens to disqualify a large amount of potential Democratic candidates from running for office in the near future. 

"A person who is considering races down the road and planning to be a candidate, they're not likely our audience," Slash said. "Our audience is likely the voter who wants to participate wants to have their voice heard wants their vote to count."

ReCenter also has billboards places in Evansville, Indianapolis, and Merryville.  

The Indiana Primary is May 7th.

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