New party looks for members

Tuesday’s city primary will be dominated by contested Republican Party races, and Democrats will have their say during the November general election.

Someday, though, a fledgling political party hopes to be a factor in Columbus and Bartholomew County elections.

Casey Mead, Bartholomew County chairman for the Indiana Veterans Party of America, is trying to attract members to the party and eventually have local candidates. For now, though, he’s the lone local party representative.

The state party is a branch of the national Veterans Party of America, founded by veterans in December 2013.

According to the national party’s website, the group was formed because veterans were upset with federal funding cuts, and wanted to support and help elect candidates who are solution-oriented and strongly adhere to the principles of the U.S. Constitution.

Military service isn’t a requirement for party membership or endorsement as a candidate, according to Mead and the national party’s website. Candidates who believe in the Constitution as the rule of law will have the party’s backing, Mead said.

“We want to represent based on the Constitution. I feel Democrats and Republicans have left the people behind based on diversionary tactics,” he said.

The Veterans Party of America is starting to gain some traction. Earlier this month, Michael Hart was re-elected mayor of Commerce, Oklahoma, as a member of the VPA. More locally, Tommy Brown III, an independent candidate for city council in Salem, has the backing of the VPA, said Corbin Doades, state chairman for the Indiana Veterans Party of America.

Mead, 29, a machine operator at Amcor Rigid Plastics in Franklin, lives just south of the Johnson County line in Bartholomew County. Mead, who is not a veteran, said he learned about the Veterans Party of America through social media, and its message resonated with him.

While Mead said he identifies himself as a conservative, and has been a Republican, he believes Republicans have strayed from the Constitution and left people behind.

Mead said he contacted Doades and expressed his interest and desire to get involved, and that Doades asked him to serve as the county party chairman to help grow the party’s presence in the state.

Informing people about the party is largely being done through Facebook and personal conversations, Doades said.

“We’re trying to spread the news about us and let people know there is a third choice for political parties,” Doades said.

The Indiana Veterans Party of America has a long way to go, though, before it can be recognized on a ballot as a political party. To do that, it would need a candidate to run for secretary of state and receive at least 2 percent of the vote.

Then the party would be recognized statewide the next four years on ballots, said Dale Simmons, co-legal counsel for the state’s Election Division. Until then, any candidates representing the VPA would have to run as independent candidates, Simmons added.

Bartholomew County Clerk Jay Phelps said his office has not had any contact from the Indiana Veterans Party of America.

The deadline for independent candidates to file for this year’s municipal elections is noon June 30, Phelps said.

About the Veterans Party of America

Founded: Dec. 19, 2013, by U.S. military veterans

Mission: To place solution-oriented leaders, who will not forget their oath to the U.S. Constitution, into political office so America can again be the nation that is strong, fair and just. Upholding the Constitution is the highest priority.

For more information about the national Veterans Party of America: Go online at veteranspartyofamerica.org or facebook.com/VeteransPartyOfAmerica

For more information about the Indiana Veterans Party of America: Call 812-316-2742, send an email to in@vpofa.org or go online at indianavpa.wix.com/thecommittee or facebook.com/invpa

For more information about the Bartholomew County chapter: Call Casey Mead at 812-374-8360 or send an email to caseymead85@gmail.com

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.