Sabrina Haake ( pronounced "hake" ) is a lesbian attorney who wants to represent Indiana's 1st Congressional District.
Among her core issues are the climate and environment, mental health, racial justice, job and LGBTQ rights.
Windy City Times: Could you describe the area and district you want to represent?
Sabrina Haake: The district, as a whole, runs right outside of Chicago; from East Chicago, it runs 52 miles along the southern tip of Lake Michigan to LaPorte. There are about 700,000 people and it's a fairly conservative area overall, in terms of social mores and that kind of thing. Indiana has been solidly Republican for many years, but this pocketGary, Hammond, East Chicagoand Bloomington and Indianapolis are the only blue areas in the state.
WCT: I saw that there are 14 Democratic primary candidates in your race.
SH: Yesand that's because we've had the same person in that office for 35 years. [Incumbent Democrat Peter Visclosky announced last year that he would not seek re-election.] It's a rare opportunity, and everyone came out of the woodwork. I don't have anything bad to say about the other candidates, but I am the only openly gay candidate running, and I'm probably the most progressive candidate on the Democratic candidate. I'm just glad I haven't gotten any death threats.
WCT: Wait a minute: Were you expecting death threats?
SH: [Laughs] Nobut the Republicans can get pretty nasty. When I first entered the race, we got some pretty nasty messages.
WCT: And what's your background?
SH: I was a legislative intern for the Indiana House of Representatives. Then I was a Governor's Fellow and then I worked for Gov. Evan Bayh, who appointed me to be the state's first drug czarbut then my brother was arrested for dealing drugs, and he did hard time and I couldn't deal with the hypocrisy, so I resigned. I then moved to Shanghai in a study-abroad program while attending law school [at the at Indiana University School of Law]. Then I went to London for a semester and studied the commercial codes of China and the European Union.
Right after law school, I was hired as general counsel for a Chicago company called Marbo, a multinational manufacturer. After Marbo was sold, I opened a private-litigation practice that I've had ever since. The practice has handled discrimination cases as well as defense work. I'm proud that I've never lost a jury trial, or a substantive summary judgment in federal court.
WCT: Your website lists your stances on various issues, and they're detailed. I've seen other websites with no detailed positions…
SH: …Because they're afraid of alienating anyone.
I have to tell you about something that pisses me off to no end. Indiana recently passed this ridiculous abortion bill that requires a woman who has a medication-induced abortion has to bury the fetal remains. This bill is so degrading to womenit makes me so mad. It's SB299. And what's also bad is that one of the other women in this race is a legislator who didn't vote on this bill at alland now it's going to become law.
I'm the only one with Roe v. Wade on their website; no one else has the balls to do so because they're scared of the supermajority. Half the other people in the race are DINOs: Democrats in name only.
WCT: You also discuss racial justice on your website. Is that something that came to the forefront because of where you live?
SH: You know, living in Gary, yes. Last year, I met a manJerome Prince [who is African-American]and he became mayor; my wife and I actively campaigned for him.
If you look at the areas of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago, their per-capita income is in the $17,000-$18,000 range; that's horrifying. Now if you go two towns over, in the same district, their income is four to five times that. It's revolting, and there's no excuse for it. People need to address what we need to do to bring the per capita of those three cities up. It's unjust, and unsustainable. We need homegrown jobs in those areasin Gary, in particular; the jobs just aren't here. The jobs involve greening the economy. Gary has a lot of really smart people and they want to work.
WCT: Let's switch gears and discuss the LGBTQ community. What do you think is the biggest problem the demographic faces?
SH: Right now, Trump and Penceand I hope that's temporary. Pence made an argument for conversion therapy, and his spouse works for a school that fires anyone who is discovered to be gay. This is the vice president of the most powerful country on the planetand they're espousing this kind of bullshit.
Trump said he isn't anti-gay, but he has this right-wing base. He's splitting the country, and he's not just doing it to the LGBT peoplebut that seems to be his number-one target. They have a brief pending that argues that opposes Title VIIwhich protects people from discrimination on the bases of gender, race, what have youfor LGBT people. They're arguing that we're not entitled to federal protection. If we don't have Title VII protection, then we have NO protectionand we're completely at the mercy of the right-wingers.
Also, I think Trump is hell-bent on destroying the planet. This man has spent hundreds of millions of dollars into propping up fossil fuels, and he and Pence deny the climate science that exists. He's appointing people who are destroying the air and water, and they're fracking everywhere. I feel that Trump is a disease that's hell-bent on destroying the planet. I know that sounds extreme, but you can put that.
WCT: If you could ask President Trump one question and be guaranteed to get the truth from him, what would it be?
SH: "What would it take to get you the hell out of here?" My number-one concern is to get him out of office. I actually started out as Republican; I'm not anti-Republican, and my wife's family is almost 100-percent Republican, although they don't like Trump. But I think what Trump has done to the Republican Party makes him dangerous; he gives a platform to dangerous racists and homophobes.
WCT: How do you feel Congress and the president have responded to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic?
SH: In our nation's fight against coronavirus, we are paying for Trump's ego, lies and ineptitude with our own lives. Trumpwho called the virus "fake news" and as late as Feb. 28 called it the Democrats' "hoax"only stopped dismissing the virus when the stock market tanked. Since then, there have been a series of misfires and miscalculations, but none so grave as telling governors that they, and not the federal government, are responsible for stopping the pandemic.
Trump's cringe-worthy deflection attempts to re-create a new narrative where governors, not POTUS, dismissed the virus as a hoax, then downplayed it for weeks and allowed it to spread, then politicized it, then refused to act in time to make sure the country had access to sufficient test kits to identify and contain the virus. Because of POTUS' continuing deflection, the virus spread to disastrous proportions and we STILL don't have enough test kits to contain it.
It is not a defense to say "look what we're doing now," because in the treatment and containment of infectious disease, timing is everything. In early Marchwhich was already latePOTUS promised that a million tests would be made available. That sounded reasonable, or at least defensible ( unless you looked at the per capita testing rate in South Korea ). But we failed even that facile metric and, today, Trump is lying about it at his daily press briefings, telling the country that everyone who needs a test can get one, when the medical community is saying just the opposite.
Despite Trump's efforts to shift his persona to a powerful "commander-in-chief" in charge of "war" operations, he publicly denied that the "enemy" was lurking for months, allowing it to grow in strength and numbers. I predict that when an actuary calculates the number of cases that could have been prevented with timely national leadership, even Trump's base will see that the emperor has been naked all along.
WCT: What is your biggest advantage and disadvantage in the Democratic primary?
SH: I think that I have the biggest heart and the biggest intellect. I know that sounds arrogant but my background is in federal law, and I'm a constitutional scholar. So I'd say I'm a heavy-hitter. I've been in law for 26 years; I've got the strongest background.
My biggest weakness is a lack of name recognition. Four people running in this race have been in office for years and years, and their parents held their offices before them. In one case, I'm battling a 50-year dynasty.
Haake's website is SabrinaHaakeForCongress.com .
The Indiana primary will now take place Tuesday, June 2; it was originally slated for Tuesday, May 5.