By Jay Zimmer

For the first time in almost anyone’s memory, Hoosier Democrats forsake the capital city and take their confab elsewhere.

For years the Democrats gathered in the downtown Convention Center to hash out candidates and platform planks.  Yet the party leadership now sees some value in parking the event in another Hoosier city.  So for the state’s 2,000 delegates, it’s onward to Fort Wayne.

Among their tasks at this amalgamation is to finalize a slate of candidates for state offices, finalize the party platform, and to select the Indiana delegates to send to Charlotte N.C. and the Democratic National Convention later this summer.

The hope is to energize Democrats in an area of the state historically dominated by Republicans.  The GOP holds majority rule in Fort Wayne as well as seve\ral surrounding towns, and Allen County itself.  Moving the convention there gives Democrats a beach head in “enemy” territory, according to Dan Parker, Indiana State Democratic Chairman.

Allen County Republican chairman Steve Shine doesn’t think so.  He says despite a stunt by Democrats, the county voters will remain steadfastly loyal to the GOP.

There is also the “Indianapolis versus everyplace else” syndrome that sometimes (usually during the legislative session) seems to permeate the state.  Party officials think moving the convention will do something to assuage that feeling.

And it won’t do Fort Wayne any harm, either.  Mayor Tom Henry (a Democrat) says the convention will leave half a million dollars in  his city’s economy, to say nothing of helping local democrats to claw their way into public consciousness.  Henry says landing the state confab is a major coup for his city and for the county – and it’s sparked interest in other Hoosier cities who might like to host a a convention in the future.

(Data from the Associated Press aided the author in composing this article)