Last time Hillary Clinton appeared on a presidential ticket, she won Brown County by 18 votes over fellow Democrat Barack Obama.

But this time, Brown County felt the Bern.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders defeated the former secretary of state by more than 400 votes here, taking 61 percent of the Democratic vote.

Sanders also won 52.5 percent of Indiana’s Democrats and the majority of the state’s 92 delegates to the national convention.

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Rick Bond, the local Democrat Central Committee chairman, said he believes the party will be able to unite behind whoever becomes the Democrats’ nominee.

“It would be stupid not to,” local DNC Treasurer Steve Gore added.

“Just make sure that if you’re a Democrat, you stay with the Democrats in the fall,” Bond said.

Jeff Harden, himself a candidate for office, chose Sanders for president.

Sanders’ honesty, his plans to make public colleges and universities tuition-free and the fact that no one named Sanders has led the country before is why Harden supports him, he said.

“Ever since I’ve been alive it seems like it’s been Bushes or Clintons. … We’ve got to get new faces in there to try and change some things,” Harden added.

“If Hillary becomes our Democrat nominee, it will be hard for me not to vote for her in the general election just because you’ve got to support a Democrat if you’re a Democrat,” he said.

But he said he plans to hold Clinton “to the fire” if she does receive the party’s nod.

For Democrat and former county prosecutor Jim Oliver, Clinton is the candidate with most experience and who is in a better position to represent everyone.

“Somehow we’ve got to find what the people want and need. I’m not sure that the extremes of either party are going to do that,” he said.

He agrees with a lot of Sanders’ positions and policies, but he doesn’t think Sanders will be able to accomplish his goals if he is elected.

That’s also his worry for Clinton.

“I do have concerns that once she is president that it will be very difficult for her to accomplish anything because of the animosity that many people have for her,” Oliver said.

Bob and Becki Smith are both Democrats, but the couple didn’t agree on the best choice for president — or even when to vote. Bob likes to vote early and Becki likes to go to the polls.

When she returned, her husband had one question for her: Did you vote for Sanders?

She didn’t.

“It’s time for a woman. I didn’t vote for her because she’s a woman only, but, my gosh, it’s time and to me, she’s just a brilliant woman who will be able to step into the presidency from day one and command the attention of everyone she needs to,” Becki said.

Bob, a veteran and a member of the Teamsters and United Auto Workers unions, is for Sanders because he said he believes he has the best interests of the American people, including American workers, in mind.

“It’s utterly unfair to expect young people to invest their time, be in debt, anywhere from $30,000 to $75,000 to get a college education to perform in this new economy, the high-tech economy,” Bob said.

This fall, though, the Smiths will be on the same side.

“If Bernie is the nominee, he’s got my support 1,000 percent. I have no problem with that,” Becki said.

“The first time Hillary ran, I voted for Hillary. Then when she conceded, I voted for Barack Obama. I will do the same thing this time,” Bob said. “It’s a win-win for us.”


Across town at Brown County Republican headquarters, no one acted shocked when news began to circulate that Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas had ended his presidential bid after securing just under 37 percent of Republican votes in Indiana.

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump won Brown County by nearly the same margin as he won the state: 56.6 percent to Cruz’s 35.6 percent.

Republicans Ben and Mercy Phillips have been happily married for 50 years, and this is the first time they have so strongly disagreed on a candidate.

As they went to bed the night before the election, Mercy was still trying to get Ben to change his mind, she said.

“I don’t believe that Mr. Trump has the temperament, the personality, to be the president of the United States,” Mercy said. “He has no legislative experience whatsoever, and I am unsure as to his true conservative values.”

For Ben, Trump’s business experience is his best quality.

“The last eight years have been miserable for economic development, and you can’t pay down the debt, you can’t create jobs, you can’t pay taxes and build infrastructure without a good, thriving economy,” he said.

Mercy supported Cruz. “He has stood up to the establishment in Washington, D.C. He has promoted his conservative values and never backed away from any of them,” she said.

“I think that he is capable of negotiations as well as anybody, and I believe he more represents my sense of value and morals.”

Ben admitted he did not really like Trump, Cruz or even Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who dropped out of the race the day after Indiana’s primary May 3. Ben said he would have preferred Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker or Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Of Trump, “I think he’s the one that can beat Hillary, whether I like Trump that well or not,” Phillips said.

Mercy will most likely vote for Trump in November, she said.

“What I won’t do is support Hillary, so that doesn’t leave me a lot of options,” she said.

Lynnette Miller makes no bones about her position on Trump.

“I think he’s playing both sides of the street, and it’s very obvious from the way he’s lived his life,” she said. “And while I don’t disapprove of both parties — and good ideas happen on other sides — I don’t trust his motivation.”

In contrast, Miller felt that Cruz understood government. She said she thinks he would have stood with the moral principles she believes the government is lacking.

What will she do in November now that Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee?

“I’ll hold my nose and vote for Trump, because I don’t think either Bernie Sanders or Hillary wants my country to continue as my country,” Miller said.

Margo and Rob Ayers are both Trump supporters and have been from the start.

“The man has no reason to lie. What’s he got to gain from it?” Margo said. “He’s paying for everything himself. No one’s backing him. He owes no one.”

Margo never trusted that Cruz was anything more than a puppet of his financial backers, like the other Republican candidates who have left the race, she said.

“He (Cruz) should have dropped out a long time ago. He didn’t have a chance,” she said.

The resistance to Trump by the Republican National Committee and Political Action Committees only firmed up the Ayerses’ support for Trump, they said.

“The RNC and super PACs wanted to play these games of, ‘How can you stop Trump?'” Rob said. “And I guess they found out they couldn’t stop him.”

How You Voted

President of the United States


Jeb Bush;29

Ben Carson;33

Chris Christie;6

Ted Cruz;1,387

Carly Fiorina;9

John R. Kasich;189

Rand Paul;15

Marco Rubio;16

Donald Trump;2,202


Hillary Clinton;805

Bernie Sanders;1,269

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Ben Kibbey is a Brown County transplant from the cornfields of central Ohio. He covers county government, business, outdoors, sports and general news.