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Rich James: Winners, losers emerge from Tuesday election

Rich James

Rich James

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Updated: December 13, 2011 8:52AM



We’ve got winners and we’ve got losers in the wake of Tuesday’s municipal elections.

And the biggest winner is?

That clearly has to be Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., who doubles as Lake County Democratic chairman.

McDermott won re-election over Republican George Janiec, pulling 80 percent of the vote.

This is the same Janiec who four years ago lost to McDermott by a scant 600 votes.

Not only did Janiec get hammered, but Kimberly Poland, the lone Republican on the Hammond City Council was ousted by Bill Emerson Sr., who pulled 64 percent of the vote.

Given what happened in Hammond and across most of the rest of the county, McDermott’s stock as county chairman got a heck of a boost.

* * *

As long as you’ve got a biggest winner, you’ve got to have a biggest loser.

And there was no contest in this category.

Lake County Republican Chairwoman Kim Krull got embarrassed at most every turn as her candidates imploded.

* * *

One of the biggest reasons Krull takes home the “biggest loser” trophy is because of what happened in her hometown of Crown Point.

With Democratic Mayor David Uran winning re-election with 63 percent of the vote, Crown Point Republicans hit their lowest point in history.

I imagine Jim Metros, the city’s first Democratic mayor, had a smile election night as he saw his party build on what he started.

Not only did Uran crush Eldon Strong, but Democrats also won three City Council seats — the most in history.

Makes you wonder what it will take for Republicans in the county seat to recover.

* * *

In East Chicago, you’ve also got to wonder if John Aguilera’s political career came to an end on Tuesday night.

Aguilera, who served in the Legislature and on the County Council as a Democrat, ran for East Chicago mayor as an independent and limped home with 19 percent of the vote. That’s sad for a guy with a Hispanic surname in a city with a majority Hispanic population.

Mayor Anthony Copeland, who appears to have united a terribly divided city, won his first full term after winning a precinct caucus to replace George Pabey.

* * *

Adding to Krull’s pain was the fact that Schererville Democrats regained control of the Town Council.

The difference was Democrat Mike Troxell’s win over Sharon Moore.

The Schererville race proved once again that signs don’t vote.

Republicans Moore, Jerry Tippy and Kevin Bradley ran as a team and plastered their signs across town.

Not enough of them voted.

* * *

Some other observations from Tuesday’s election.

The people of Gary are looking upon Mayor-elect Karen Freeman-Wilson as a savior of sorts. She pulled 86 percent of the vote against three other candidates.

Krull took another kick in Gary as the Republican candidate for mayor ran last behind independent and Unicratic candidates.

Hammond may have overtaken Gary as the county’s largest city following the 2010 census, but Gary had bragging rights Tuesday night.

There were 1,562 more mayoral votes cast in Gary than Hammond.

In Winfield, the eighthplace finisher (a Democrat) in the at-large Town Council race came within seven votes of winning. The top five were elected. Republicans won four of the five seats.

In Portage, Republican Mayor-elect Jim Snyder was a gracious winner as he heaped praise on outgoing Mayor Olga Velazquez.

Snyder also surprised some in the room as he said he is opposed to right-to-work laws.

And finally, on the national level, voters repealed an anti-union measure in Ohio and defeated an anti-abortion referendum in Mississippi that defined life as beginning at conception.

It would appear tea partiers are losing clout.

Rich James’ column appears on Friday.



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