INDIANAPOLIS – Howey Politics’ long look yesterday at the incendiary Indiana Republican primary had plenty that was noteworthy, but one segment still managed to stand out against everything else. Typically, you don’t publicize a whisper campaign, but that’s apparently not the case for Congressman Rokita’s team, who gleefully mentioned they were trying to lean on Congressman Messer and convince him not to get into the race. Meanwhile, Congressman Messer’s campaign hit back, claiming that Congressman Rokita didn’t have the juice to lean on anyone, as the ugly attacks of the Republican primary continue to spill into the open.
From Howey Politics: Money, rancor flows into Senate race
The Republican money wars took a back seat to the increasing rancor between the former Wabash College classmates. This played out in conspicuous fashion when Messer released a statement assailing Rokita. “For months, Todd Rokita has spread lies and half-truths about my family, claiming we are not Hoosiers and attacking my wife’s legal career,” Messer said. “He started by planting misleading news stories and whispering distortions in back rooms. This past weekend, he lifted the veil and directly attacked my wife and family in a television interview.”
The whisper campaign instigated by Team Rokita is that Messer is pondering reelection in the safely Republican 6th CD rather than risk a bloody primary battle with Rokita and then face a brutal mid-term election with scandal and inertia swamping the Trump White House. Edson told HPI on Wednesday, “I hear Messer is getting cold feet.”
Asked if this was the strategy, Edson said, “We sort of have been. We’ve been pushing and hammering him. I’m find it fascinating that he was promising donors he was going to have a Todd Young-type quarter and would crush us. That’s an even bigger problem for him. I’m not intimidated by Luke Messer’s ability to out-raise us.”
Kneeland acknowledged the Rokita strategy of aggressively challenging Messer in an attempt to keep him out of the race. “They’ve called some people and said that out loud. The reality is Todd Rokita doesn’t have the juice or reality to scare anyone. If Luke gets in this deal, he will have overwhelming support financially. Any kind of idea that the half truths and deceptions are going to have any impact is a fool’s errand.”