Candidates storm Starke County

KNOX — There were candidates everywhere.
Half a dozen candidates for state office, local candidates, and flocks of their supporters, swarmed throughout the Knox Harvest Festival, especially on Saturday and during the afternoon parade.
Republicans staged a rally in conjunction with the festival, setting up a large tent at Lake and Pearl streets. The biggest draw were candidates for state office, not seen that often locally: Dan Coats for U.S. Senate, Jackie Walorski for District 2 U.S. Representative; Tim Berry for state auditor; Richard Mourdock for state treasurer; Charlie White for secretary of state; and Francis Ellert for Indiana House District 17.
Coats is running against Congressman Brad Ellsworth for U.S. Senate.
Coats told the crowd that while northern Indiana has had it tough for the last couple of years, it’s not alone in the struggle.
“What’s happening here is happening across the state and across the country. We’ve seen this recovery not take place. The president labeled it the summer of recovery. It’s the summer of more stagnation and people out of work,” said Coats.
Coats is running for the seat being vacated by Evan Bayh, who took office when Coats didn’t seek re-election to the senate in 1998.
Local candidates were in the thick of it all. Judge Kim Hall, a Republican bidding for re-election, left the parade often, going up onto porches and shaking hands.
His Democratic opponent, former Starke Circuit Judge David Matsey, was everywhere, and marched in the parade with what’s becoming his signature: A super-size judge’s gavel.
Republican Prosecutor Julianne Havens manned her own booth, providing a game wheel with prizes for kids, then headed over to hand out free hot dogs at the Republican rally.
Democrats manned a booth in the heart of the festival, with candidates, current office holders and party faithful buttonholing the crowds. Free popcorn, memo pads, pens, tourism maps, paper fans and more were offered for the taking.
Crowds of supporters hovered around the candidates, making the festival at times seem like one giant political rally. Cheers greeted candidates like Hall as they dove into the crowd, and Matsey as he marched through town.