ICYMI: “Jonathan Weinzapfel might be Indiana Democrats’ best ticket out of the political wilderness.”

August 20, 2020

In case you missed it, Indiana’s Democratic AG nominee Jonathan Weinzapfel caught up with reporter Adam Wren to chat about why he’s running for state Attorney General, the issues that matter to Hoosiers, and the dangers of his Republican opponent, Todd Rokita.

Todd Rokita is a corrupt politician who wants to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, putting health care for 497,000 Hoosiers at risk including 2.7 million with pre-existing conditions. He’s refused to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines and he’s remained completely silent on Trump’s attempt to defund social security. He’s a career politician who believes in playing by his own rules, behavior that breeds corruption. It’s why he was rejected by Indiana Republicans just two years ago for statewide office.

Jonathan is the former Mayor of Evansville, a former state legislator, and most recently served as the Chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College Evansville campus. He is known for being a job creator and working in a bipartisan manner to get the job done for the people of Indiana.

Weinzapfel currently holds a significant fundraising advantage over his opponent and The Cook Political Report rated Indiana’s state AG race a toss-up.

In case you missed it, here are the highlights from Jonathan Weinzapfel’s Q&A that earned him the reputation of “Indiana Democrats’ best ticket out of the political wilderness”:

Wren: What did you think when you realized that Todd Rokita was going to be the Republican nominee and not Curtis Hill?

Weinzapfel: Well, he was our second choice, to put it frankly. He is someone who has been pretty far out there on the right-wing. He has angered quite a few Republicans and I think has pretty soft support within the party. And that’s I think a perfect environment for us to be successful in the fall.

I think it’s important from both a policy perspective and symbolically to communicate with folks that we’re going to fight to protect their healthcare. While Todd Rokita, obviously he’s with his 60 plus vote to kill the affordable care act in Congress and his commitment to support this lawsuit. There’s a clear difference between the two of us. Especially in the middle of a global pandemic. There are what, 2.7 million Hoosiers with some type of preexisting condition, and with every positive coronavirus test, there are more.

I just think it’s an untenable position and politically tone-deaf. And from a policy perspective, unconscionable. I think it’s the clearest difference between the two candidates and it’s something we talk about every single day. So it’s not just the 2.7 million Hoosiers with preexisting conditions. It’s 550,000 that have received healthcare through the expansion of the Healthy Indiana Plan, which was put together by Mitch Daniels and expanded under Mike Pence, and now Todd Rokita wants to kill it.

Wren: When you received your party nomination, in several press releases and statements, Todd Rokita misspelled your last name a variety of different ways. What did you make of that?

Weinzapfel: Unprofessional.

Wren: What would your relationship be like with Gov. Eric Holcomb should he be re-elected and should you be elected in position?

Weinzapfel: Well, I’ll give you an example. Two weeks ago, governor Eric Holcomb issues an order for wearing masks in public.

Curtis Hill issues an advisory order saying the governor doesn’t have the legal authority to do it. We immediately issued a statement saying one, I support the governor’s policy, but two, he clearly has the legal authority to order masks to be worn in public places. Todd Rokita gave some mealy-mouth answer and really didn’t answer the question because he’s afraid he might offend somebody. So I think that right there really epitomized the relationship that I would expect to have with governor Holcomb if he is re-elected. I will focus on what’s best for Hoosiers and Hoosiers deserve to have a government that functions. They want to see their elected officials regardless of party work together to improve their lives and that’s what I’m committed to doing.

Wren: Beyond removing Indiana from the lawsuit against Obamacare, what are some key initiatives you hope to pursue if elected?

Weinzapfel: This really does revolve around coronavirus. I mean, that’s what’s at the forefront of people’s minds. It’s had a devastating impact on our society and our economy. So we want to focus on things that can help improve Hoosiers’ lives. We want to focus on protecting folk’s wages. I want to make sure that, and we’ve been a strong advocate of this, that we ought to have absentee voting for anyone who wants to participate. So there should be no-fault absentee balloting.

There are just a lot of issues that I’ll also inherit. Everything from the state’s lawsuit among other states and communities throughout Indiana and the country who have filed litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors. I would expect that they will not bring that to any conclusions. So that will be an opportunity to really help shape a settlement agreement I would expect. Or take it to the full litigation. But I would expect it to be some type of settlement litigation or settlement agreement, like the tobacco settlement. And making sure the proceeds from that are going to help the people in the communities that have been harmed the most, and doing that through support for drug addiction services and treatment and mental health counseling and treatment. Two areas where we are grossly deficient here in Indiana.

I tell you, the thing that amazes me is with the fraud committed by the operators of virtual charter schools, why they aren’t being held accountable? And that’s something I would also want to make. And it’s not because they’re charter schools. Any vendor anyone receiving tax dollars from the state, I think it’s the role of the Attorney General to hold them accountable if they don’t live up to their commitments. And this is just a very obvious example that people are aware of it, but it’s true in every instance. You got to make sure we’re protecting taxpayers.

Wren: Democrats have struggled in Indiana statewide for years. Why do you think you can reverse that trend?

Weinzapfel: One, first and foremost, it’s the contrast in candidates.

There’s a clear difference between the two of us. I think Curtis Hill has raised the profile of the Attorney General’s office. Good or bad.

And so I think it’s an office that people are paying attention to. I’ve run statewide campaigns. Let me take that back. I’ve run campaigns, national campaigns prior. So we know what we’re doing. We’re raising the money necessary to be successful. And I think it’s a political environment, especially with coronavirus where people are looking for leadership, and I’m not sure they care whether they’re Democrat or Republican. They want folks who are going to work together, they’re going to help us address our economic challenges, the challenges with our schools. People are worried about their healthcare. They’re worried about keeping jobs. Folks who have put their life savings into the family business. And they’re wondering, have they just lost all that entire investment.

You have folks that are worried they’re going to be putting their parents in a nursing home and what kind of conditions exist there?

Those are the things that are at forefront of people’s minds and I’m not sure if they care if it’s a Republican or Democrat response, they want to see leadership. Someone who can bring people together and build consensus and get stuff done. And frankly, that’s my track record as both a Mayor of Evansville and as Chancellor at Ivy Tech Evansville.

For the full Q & A, check out the link here.