Christmas in June? Excitement builds as more candidates circle messy GOP primary

INDIANAPOLIS – The Republican Senate primary is set to get even more brutal this week as additional candidates circle around the race and battle lines are drawn in the media and candidates’ war chests.

State Representative Mike Braun was the latest candidate debating leaping into the GOP primary as the Washington Times Herald caught up with him Friday. Representative Braun, a business owner capable of self-funding his campaign, has repeatedly been mentioned as a potential candidate in what’s already one of the highest-profile Senate races in the country, one currently featuring Congressmen Luke Messer and Todd Rokita.

The Times Herald’s piece was not without a warning for Representative Braun about the nastiness of the already fractured early race, declaring:

“If the local state representative jumps into the U.S. Senate race, he will most likely be part of a primary run that has already shown signs of being brutal before anyone even formally commits. Congressmen Luke Messer and Todd Rokita are considered the early front-runners. They have similar voting records, but already each is claiming the other is behind negative stories that have surfaced in the Indianapolis media.”

While the race may get even uglier with a self-funding candidate, it’s already shaped up to be juicy enough to get observers salivating. On his WIBC show Sunday, Rob Kendall described the GOP primary as “Christmas coming [early],” with the candidates drawing their battle lines:

“[For Messer and Rokita] it’s like spring training right now – they’re in the offseason in baseball, they’re signing star players to help them when the season begins, and Governor Pence and many of his close associates are beginning to line up behind Luke Messer…

[Congressman Rokita] is the last person I’d want to get in a political fight with because those guys are bringing metaphorical brass knuckles, chains, guns, and knives to the political fight.

Luke Messer on the other hand [is] starting to line up with some very big name Republicans…  So you got the street brawlers against the guys with the cash. This is going to be a phenomenal, an absolutely phenomenal Republican primary… It’s like Christmas coming soon, the 2018 Indiana Republican primary.”

With members of the media feeding the flames, the primary is poised to get even uglier after both Congressmen launched anonymous attacks on each other in the press. But with the primary getting bloodier, the only one with momentum is Joe Donnelly. “Joe Donnelly,” as Representative Braun put it, “won’t be an easy guy to unseat.”

“The Republican primary will be punishingly harmful for all involved even if two Members of Congress are the only officeholders running. That becomes even more true if more candidates get in,” said Will Baskin-Gerwitz, Senior Media Strategist for the Indiana Democratic Party. “While Joe Donnelly continues to burnish his reputation as someone willing to reach across the aisle to deliver results for Hoosiers, the circular firing squad mentality of Republicans will only harm them going into next year.”

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