BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—“We don’t need to give him another ounce of our brain-space,” Dan Canon told the crowd of 40 people, hitting the TV mute as President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech began. “We don’t care what he says.” The speech had been the advertised reason for the gathering at the Crazy Horse bar in downtown Bloomington, but in truth the mix of college students and older locals couldn’t even be bothered to hate watch Trump. They had come to hear Canon, a civil rights attorney running for Congress in Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, talk about his campaign to unseat one-term incumbent Trey Hollingsworth.
Students seem drawn to Canon in part because he was one of the plaintiff attorneys in the lawsuit that became Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage. They like his stances on raising the federal minimum wage and providing Medicare for all. But it’s his full-throated support for legalizing medical marijuana at the federal level that has distinguished him in the eyes of many young voters, who consider it a threshold for taking any politician seriously.