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Marks begins campaign to challenge Walorski for seat

CANDIDATE: On Tuesday, Ellen Marks became the second Democrat to announce her candidacy for the Indiana 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Jackie Walorski.

by Rob Burgess - rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com

On Tuesday, Ellen Marks became the second Democrat to announce her candidacy for the Indiana 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Jackie Walorski.

Marks began her campaign at the West Side Democratic & Civic Club in South Bend. Marks is a partner and a member of the Corporate and Finance Departments of Latham & Watkins.

“For the last 28 years, as a lawyer, Ellen has helped companies and banks finance their businesses. She has also provided pro bono legal services that include criminal justice litigation and consumer law handbooks for legal aid groups,” according to her campaign.

In July, Notre Dame adjunct law professor Pat Hackett announced her candidacy for Democratic nomination for Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District.

If Hackett or Marks were to win the primary election, she would face incumbent Walorski in the 2020 general election.

In a phone interview with the Plain Dealer on Wednesday, Marks weighed in on several topics including what inspired her to run, the primaries, health care, the environment, impeachment, abortion and cannabis.

Defining herself during the primaries

Marks said she would work to distinguish herself during the campaign, especially during the primaries.

“I think that there are a lot of similarities between me and Pat in terms of values,” she said. “My campaign is going to talk a lot about values.”

Marks said she wanted her campaign to emphasize what brings Americans together instead of what drives them apart.

“It’s not party-based. It’s based on what I believe in and what I care about and I hope that as I go out and talk to everybody that that commitment to help everyone in this district whatever their party affiliation or non-affiliation.”

Marks said fixing the health care system, fair wages and the environment were among her “essential” priorities.

“It’s the world that our kids are going to inherit,” she said.

How she compares herself to national Democrats

Marks said she had been describing herself as a “common-sense Democrat” who also has “deeply progressive values and deeply practical approaches.”

“I know that our presidential candidates have been moving to the left. I think that what they care about and what I care about are consistent,” she said.

On the question of impeachment, Marks demurred and said she hoped it would be a “moot point” by the time of her potential election to Congress.

“I’m willing to work now with my campaign to talk about the reasons that that should be a moot point. And we’ll cross that bridge if we get to it,” she said.

‘Adamantly pro-choice’

Marks calls herself “adamantly pro-choice,” citing her own medical experiences.

“I say that as someone who nearly died giving birth to twins, one of whom I lost nine days after she was born,” she said. “I know how physically and emotionally difficult it is to carry a pregnancy that you deeply want and I could never imagine taking a stance that said that someone who did not make that choice had to put her body through the types of changes that pregnancy entails for nine months and take on all of the financial hardship, the financial risk and the emotional struggle and the physical struggle that comes with it.

“I will fight for women to have reproductive freedom,” she said.

At the same time, Marks said she understood the concerns of those who feel differently.

“I understand that that’s an issue that is something that people really struggle with from a moral or ethical perspective and I have a lot of empathy for that. But, I also have a lot of empathy for the women who need to be able to make decisions for their own bodies,” she said.

Cannabis legalization

Marks said the legalization of cannabis was first and foremost a “racial justice issue.”

“I am supportive of the legalization of marijuana. I’ve never used it. I have no interest in using it,” she said. “When you look at how it being illegal has impacted especially our communities of color where they criminal records that only have use of marijuana, but that can decimate their lives.”

On the medical side, Marks said given both the documented and anecdotal evidence of cannabis’ effects on ailments including dementia and the side effects from chemotherapy, it was an “area where we should have more freedom to explore.”