Most incumbents in Northwest Indiana won their respective primary elections Tuesday with one big exception. And the winner is causing much confusion.
Michael Brown had never held or run for political office before this year. He also had very little money so the thought of running for a county-wide office would seem unthinkable for most. But not to Brown.
Brown, 27, of Merrillville, thinks he spent about $2,200 as a Democratic candidate for county recorder in Lake County, Indiana, Cook County’s neighbor to the east. But that was apparently enough to defeat the incumbent recorder Michelle Fajman in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
Brown said he worked hard to get his name out there. Others said he was put in the race and benefited from the popularity of Lake County’s other Michael Brown, who serves as county clerk but who had also served as county recorder a couple of years ago. This new Brown denies that.
“The voters who voted for me in Gary knew who I was, there was no mistake. I’ve got experience, family and friends in Gary, Indiana,” Brown said. “They voted for me on purpose. I promise you that.”
The other Mike Brown, the county clerk, tried to warn people it was not him who was running for county recorder and had endorsed Fajman in the primary.
The new Michael Brown worked for the past five years as a bailiff in the Lake County Juvenile Court system and with the Gary City Court. He said he had to leave his juvenile court job because of a policy that employees cannot run for political office.
Brown admits he once dated the daughter of former Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez. Dominguez was a candidate in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for 2nd District Lake County Commissioner but lost to longtime incumbent Gerry Scheub.
Brown denies Dominguez urged to him to get in the race as some sort of political retribution.
“I’ve lived and worked in this community my whole life and I think the election showed yesterday. My opponents thought I was just a gimmick candidate and they found out that this community supports me,” Brown said.
Brown will face Republican Pamela J. Drangmeister in the general election in November. Drangmeister is a real estate agent from Crown Point.