ELKHART — The race for Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District continues to heat up as both candidates receive national endorsements and awards less than three weeks before the Nov. 6 election.
Following Tuesday evening’s debate, Democratic candidate Mel Hall was endorsed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as one of its “Red to Blue” campaigns, which focus on highly competitive campaigns across the nation.
“His grassroots campaign and focus on issues like health care and retirement security are clearly resonating with voters and creating a contrast with his opponent,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan said. “Mel has shown he has what it takes to win and no one is going to work harder than him to make it happen and flip this seat.”
U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski was at local retailer Stephenson’s of Elkhart on Wednesday morning to receive the 2018 “Hero of Main Street” Award from the National Retail Federation for her support local small businesses and retailers.
According to the NRF, the award is presented to legislators who have supported policies “that recognize the important contributions of the retail industry, and have worked to encourage a vibrant, sustained and healthy retail sector.”
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and I’m fighting to make sure our Main Street job creators have every opportunity to succeed,” Walorski said at the ceremony. “Family-owned businesses like Stephenson’s of Elkhart create good jobs for Hoosiers and help make northern Indiana a great place to live.
“I’m committed to building on our economic momentum driven by tax cuts and regulatory reforms so small businesses can continue investing in our communities and more Hoosiers can achieve the American Dream.”
The award was presented to Walorski by Danny Reynolds, owner of Stephenson’s of Elkhart.
Tuesday’s debate, broadcast from a closed set at WNDU, focused on each candidate’s stances on a variety of issues including immigration, gun control, abortion and the economy.
On abortion, Hall discussed a conversation he’d had with a woman while he was a pastor, and how it impacted his thinking.
“What I learned from that is that the government should not be involved with the decision a woman, or sometimes a young girl, has to make,” he said. “I believe in limited government and a woman along with her faith should make that decision.”
Walorski said her belief is that, “Every single baby deserves to be born. And I believe the unborn are created through the creation of God.”
On guns, Hall said he supports banning bump stocks, that can turn semi-automatic guns into fully automatic weapons.
Walorski said guns need to be kept away from criminals and those who need mental help. “One of the quickest things we can do to get a handle on guns and balance is enforcing existing law.”
On immigration, Walorski said “We are a nation of laws.” She went on to say she has spoken with local Hispanic entrepreneurs, and asked them what their main impediments were.
Hall said the country could do better.
“I think we can do two things at once,” Hall said. “We can protect our borders, and we can have humane and fair immigration policies.”
The candidates also were asked what their priorities were if elected. Hall said his goal “is to fix the way Congress behaves and the way they work and the kind of work they do.”
He described Washington as “broken, and both parties are to blame. I believe in term limits and will practice them. If Congress cannot pass a budget, they shouldn’t get paid.”
Walorski said, “My top priority is to make sure people have more money in their pocket. As we put out more ways to save, and incentivize people to save, we’re doing a great favor to millenials.”
This debate was the second between the two candidates. The first was on Oct. 8 on WSBT. Details for the third debate, to be hosted by WNIT, are still being discussed between the campaigns.
Andrew Galo, communications director for Hall, said the post-debate endorsement was “good news.”
“Another sign this race is neck and neck,” he said. “We’ll continue to remain focused on issues important to Hoosiers in the 2nd District, like protecting health care and cleaning up Congress.”
Walorski campaign manager Stephen Simonetti claimed Tuesday’s debate was a victory for the incumbent, as “the contrasts between Jackie Walorski and Democrat Mel Hall have never been clearer,” he said.
“Hoosiers know Jackie Walorski is on their side and will always fight to give Hoosier families a shot at the American Dream.”