Andre Carson wins 7th district Democratic caucus
Emily Longnecker/Eyewitness News
Indianapolis - Indianapolis Democrats Saturday chose Andre Carson as their candidate to replace his late grandmother in Congress.
It only took one vote for the committee to select Carson, who won the majority with 223 votes at a caucus Saturday morning.
Carson's possible road to Washington and the 7th District Congressional seat may have started last month at his grandmother Julia Carson's funeral.
"Andre Carson. That's what she said. Andre Carson. If you love me, send my seed," Representative Carolyn Kilpatrick told mourners in December.
Saturday morning, that seed found plenty of fertile ground in the halls of Shortridge Middle School just before the Democratic caucus. It was a final campaign push for all eight candidates and their supporters. Many waved signs and lined the path to the school's auditorium, where 439 Indiana Democratic Committee members would make their decision.
Once inside, the democratic process took over as committee members voted on touch screen machines, picking Carson to lead them on March 11 against a Republican challenger to be chosen Sunday.
But party unity may not happen right away. Even if Carson wins the special election in March, the same candidates who tried for the bid at Saturday's caucus, and new ones, could run against him in the May primary.
That is a challenge Carson said he was ready to meet.
"Let's rock and roll," Carson said. "We just want to make sure that who ever is in that seat represents the interests of the people."
Just like people who supported Carson's grandmother say she did.
"She'd be very happy, very happy," said Carson supporter Rosie Ellis.
"She'd be proud of me," Andre Carson said. "She'd be very proud of me."
Something Carson said he'd keep in mind as he gets ready for the special election just two months away.
"We're ready," he said.
Eyewitness News political reporter Kevin Rader was at the caucus and liveblogged the event for WTHR.com.
It never had to go to a second ballot this morning. Andre Carson, Julia Carson's grandson, emerged as the clear winner with over 220 votes. He needed a majority of over 100 to win. State Rep. David Orentlicher came in second. He was the only other candidate who scored in the triple digits.
The color and pagentry of the day are inescapable. Supporters wearing T-shirts for their candidates. It seems like organized chaos. It is the democratic process.
Chairman Dan Parker is calling out row by row for the caucus members to rise and file to the front of the auditorium to vote. There is a constant noise level in the room that never abates. The current belief is it will take at least three ballots to determine a nominee here today.
When the precinct committee members arrived, they walked through a barrage of candidate supporters handing out literature and advice as they made their way into Shortridge Middle School. I would be surpised if anyone changed their minds based on what they saw out front. It appears David Orentlicher is the only candidate dressed in his own campaign T-shirt.
Voting started at 10:20am. Twenty five minutes have passed and Chairman Parker has just dispatched the 11th row. It appears each ballot will take around thirty minutes to conduct. We are told it will take another thirty minutes for the machines to be reprogrammed for subsequent voting.
It started with a moment of silence for Rep. Julia Carson. Then Indiana State Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker outlined the way the caucus vote would take place. Over four hundred caucus members started voting at 10:20. First ballot voting is currently underway with voters lining up at ten voting machines.
These are the candidates in the running today:
Voting machines stolen
After the caucus, a vehicle containing the voting machines used in the caucus was broken into in the 5900 block of North College Avenue while members of the Democratic party were having lunch.
Two machines, valued at $5,000 each were taken from the vehicle. Metro police doesn't know how much damage was done to the vehicle and they have no suspects at this time.