TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- Among the crowd that gathered at the Vigo County Fairgrounds Saturday at a rally for 8th District Republican candidate Larry Bucshon were members of the Wabash Valley Tea Party and at least a couple of former Democrats.
Mary Wright, who goes by the moniker "Tea Party Mary," was drumming up support for an upcoming event with Bucshon and Republican senate candidate Dan Coats. Wearing a Tea Party T-shirt, Wright handed out her card and an invitation to the event, the party's monthly meeting Wednesday at the Terre Haute Shriners headquarters.
Jackie Cissell, an Indianapolis resident and state government employee, came to the rally as part of a contingent supporting Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who introduced Bucshon. She was a Democrat in the 1980s, but messages on Christian radio urging listeners to take responsibility for issues such as abortion and school choice convinced her to switch parties.
"We are living an absolute tragedy in America with the black drop-out rate," said Cissell, an African American. "The Democrats fight against change in education most of the time."
Glenn Anthony, of Cambridge City, Ind., drove with seven women from his church to support Pence and Bucshon.
An insurance agent who ran for public office in Henry County, Ind., and whose father was a Democratic precinct committee member, Anthony last voted as a Democrat in 1992.
"The Democrats used to be for the working class. Now they're for people who don't want to work," he said. "They've taken away the heart and soul of the country."
Anthony has about 500 clients, many of whom are on Medicare. They're unhappy with recent health care reform, and so is he.
"This is one of the most crucial elections I've ever seen, and I'll be 60 years old next week," he said. "People are just fed up. Congress forgets who they work for."