Democrat Thomas McDermott attempted to launch a challenge Sunday against Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young of Indiana by attacking his positions on issues related to abortion, federal spending and the legalization of marijuana.
Young responded by criticizing President Joe Biden and the Democratic-controlled Congress for fueling higher inflation and gas prices as the candidates faced off in their only scheduled televised debate ahead of Elections on November 8.
McDermottwho is the mayor of Hammond, and other Democrats campaigned heavily to protect abortion rights after voting in the Republican-dominated Indiana Legislature over the summer to the first country to ban abortion after the US Supreme Court eliminated federal abortion protections by overturning Roe v. Wade in June.
McDermott called for federal legislation restoring abortion rights and criticized Young for voting to confirm three conservative Supreme Court justices nominated by former President Donald Trump who helped form the court’s majority in the abortion ruling.
“It was imposed by the Supreme Court so that Roe v. Wade was overturned,” McDermott said.
Young said he believes state legislatures should decide what abortion policy should be and that what he called a “conversation” in all 50 states should continue.
“I accept exceptions and I will accept whatever the people of Indiana decide,” Young said.
Prohibition of Indiana, which state courts are blocked after a lawsuit filed by abortion clinic operators included exceptions allowing abortions in cases of rape and incest, before 10 weeks after conception; to protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if the fetus has been diagnosed with a fatal anomaly.
Libertarian candidate James Sceniak said “politicians shouldn’t act like doctors” and instead called for working to reduce the number of abortions not through bans, but by finding ways to help pregnant women and make contraception more accessible.
Young, who is sis seeking a second six-year term in the Senate she followed the front-runner’s strategy of largely ignoring McDermott, who has been Hammond’s mayor since 2004 but is little known outside of northwest Indiana. A weekly debate, organized by a non-profit organization Indiana Debate Commission and aired on several TV stations across the state, it will likely be their only face-to-face meeting.
Despite Democrats and Republicans battling hard for control of the current Senate 50-50, Indiana’s Senate race has not seen the tens of millions in outside spending it attracted four years ago when Republican Mike Braun defeated Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and in 2016. when Young won the Senate seat over former Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh.
McDermott attacked Young for numerous votes to increase federal spending during his six years as a senator and the previous six years in the US House, then tried to blame the Biden administration for the world’s inflation problems.
“He wants us to believe that Joe Biden is responsible for 100% of the nation’s problems right now and he shares the responsibility,” McDermott said. “Senator Young has been in office for 12 years and needs to take responsibility for the spending he has done.”
Young countered that the economy was improving before Biden and congressional Democrats pushed through America’s $1.9 trillion bailout earlier this year.
“Unfortunately, the first thing they did in the office was rush through the stimulus bill,” Young said. “This is the last thing you want to do with a stimulus proposal that has led to any kind of inflation.”
Young defended his push in the Senate to provide billions in federal money to boost more semiconductor companies build chip factories in the United States, saying it was necessary in the face of an ambitious China.
McDermott, a lawyer and US Navy veteran, also advocated federal legalization of marijuana because the drug remains illegal for all uses in Indiana.
McDermott called Indiana’s law an “ancient policy” maintained by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and GOP legislative leaders that threatens to jail people who legally buy recreational marijuana in Michigan or Illinois once they enter the state.
Young said legalizing marijuana would “probably be a third-tier priority” for him, citing inflation, national security and crime among those that need more attention first, while he said he would work with states to pass their own marijuana laws.