Congressman Rokita’s campaign broadsides against state GOP leaders increase party’s infighting

INDIANAPOLIS – Not only does Congressman Rokita’s scorched earth campaign strategy apparently require attacking his fellow Washington Republicans and Congressman Messer, but he also appears excited to take on Indiana’s Republican leaders as well.

Congressman Rokita’s anti-establishment announcement speech Wednesday may have been most notable for his struggle to attack the “elites” in a way that didn’t include himself, but he didn’t refrain from his typical aggressive broadsides. He attacked familiar bogeymen in Washington, and he also notably found a way to take on GOP leaders in Indiana as well.

Standing with State Senator Mike Delph, a staunch opponent of this year’s gas tax increase orchestrated by Governor Holcomb and state legislative leaders to pay for new infrastructure spending, Congressman Rokita criticized those behind the tax hike, saying “I brought over $5 billion back to Indiana… for the roads, bridges and infrastructure required to keep our economy growing. And no, Mike, we didn’t have to raise taxes to do it.” The criticism was not missed by observers, who called the line a “barb aimed at Gov. Eric Holcomb and General Assembly leaders.”

Congressman Rokita’s attempt to set himself against Republican leaders seemed to bear fruit for Congressman Messer, as State Senate President Pro Tem David Long endorsed him a day later. Additionally, while not making a formal endorsement, Congresswoman Susan Brooks attended Congressman Messer’s kickoff on Saturday in Morristown but declined to appear at Congressman Rokita’s Wednesday event, FOX 59 said yesterday. It remains to be seen how effective Congressman Rokita’s strategy of isolating himself from the well-funded state leadership and attacking them will be in the long run.

“The way the divisive Republican primary continues to play out, it seems as though the state Republican party will be utterly set against itself by the time we reach May,” said Will Baskin-Gerwitz, Senior Media Strategist for the Indiana Democratic Party. “Does Congressman Rokita really believe that insulting and belittling Governor Holcomb and Republican leaders will pay off for him in the long run, or does he simply not care? Whatever the case, we look forward to seeing the chaos unfold.”

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