Whitcomb withdraws from state Democratic Party chair race


Longtime Democratic Party champion and supporter Trish Whitcomb of Indianapolis withdrew from the race to become the next Indiana State Democratic Party chair because of the death of her son.

Whitcomb, a former Seymour resident, announced that decision Monday afternoon.

“It is with deep sorrow that I announce I am withdrawing my candidacy for state Democratic Party chair,” she said in a news release. “I experienced an unimaginable loss on Sunday when my son died unexpectedly. As any parent can imagine, there is no way I can continue my candidacy to become the next leader of the state Democratic Party.”

Whitcomb said she will continue to work with the party in the future to ensure it has strong candidates and campaigns in any capacity that she can.

“I appreciate the opportunity to run and wish the next chair all the best,” she said.

Whitcomb’s decision could clear the way for Mike Schmuhl, who was Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential campaign manager, to take over the state party.

Schmuhl, a South Bend native, is being challenged by Tom Wallace of Martinsville, who was an unsuccessful state Senate candidate last year, in Saturday’s election by the state Democratic central committee.

“Over the last few weeks, Myla and I have been inspired by Trish Whitcomb’s passion for Indiana and the Democratic Party in our state,” Schmuhl said in a joint news release with Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge, who is running for the party’s vice chair seat. “It is heartbreaking to us to learn of her loss, and we join so many across Indiana in offering our sympathy and support to Trish and her family during this difficult time.”

The term of current party Chairman John Zody expires this month. On Nov. 6, 2020, Zody announced he was leaving the position.

Zody, the third longest serving chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, has presided over a party that hasn’t won a statewide office since Glenda Ritz’s victory in 2012.

Whitcomb, a former Seymour resident and the daughter of former Indiana Gov. Edgar Whitcomb and Seymour resident Patricia Louise Whitcomb, has been involved in dozens of campaigns around the state, including serving as the campaign manager in the Democrats’ last successful statewide campaign when Glenda Ritz won the race for state school superintendent in 2012.

Edgar Whitcomb, who served as the state’s leader from 1969 to 1973, was born and raised in Hayden but lived in Seymour for 27 years before moving away in 1986. He died Feb. 4, 2016, at his home in Rome.

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