Political newcomer and former Miss Indiana Shelli Yoder beat four opponents, two with political experience in Washington, to become the Democratic challenger to Republican 9th District U.S. Rep. Todd Young in November.
Yoder, a Bloomington resident and associate director of professional development at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, entered the congressional race on the final day, saying she had grown weary of Washington politicians’ inability to collaborate and compromise on issues affecting Americans.
Yoder is the daughter of Roger and Marolyn Yoder of Shipshewana, who were in Bloomington for the victory.
After a victory speech at the Monroe County Democratic Party headquarters Tuesday night, Yoder said she is poised to challenge Young and prepared to find common ground to effect change in Washington. She said the interests of 9th District residents have been neglected.
Yoder said her commitment is authentic, and that voters recognized that. “This was a grassroots campaign of one person speaking out about voices not being heard and needs not being met and families feeling forgotten,” she said. “I am tired of the lack of progress Congress is making. I intend to take a seat at the table and break that gridlock.”
Yoder said it’s time for big change in Washington. “When enough people come together and say, ‘Enough is enough and we are not going to bow to special interest and big money,’ then you can move forward.”
Coming in second in the five-way Democratic primary was Robert Winningham, a former aide to longtime 9th District Rep. Lee Hamilton. When it became clear Yoder was the victor, Winningham called her to offer his congratulations and support. “I am committed to retaking the 9th District for the middle class,” Winningham said in a concession statement.
In Monroe County, Yoder received 62 percent of the vote, Winningham got 8.5 percent, Jonathan George got 11.5 percent, John Griffin Miller got 3.7 percent and Monroe County resident John Tilford received 14.3 percent.
Yoder received 47 percent of the votes overall. Winningham had 20 percent, George had 17 percent, and Tilford and Miller each had 8 percent.
A Republican-heavy Indiana Legislature last year changed the 9th District boundaries, taking away areas along the Ohio River in the far southeastern part of the state where Democrats were more likely to win. Now, the district is more conservative.