IN THE NEWS: Filing deadline doesn’t halt nastiness in neck-and-neck GOP primary

INDIANAPOLIS – The GOP primary field is set, and the three remaining candidates are nearly tied in both cash on hand and quantities of mud slung, a series of stories over the past week have shown. The constant infighting has set the stage for an ugly, expensive homestretch, as the Herald Bulletin writes, and with all three candidates currently showing the same amount of cash on hand, all three will continue to hit each other for the next two and a half months no matter who’s winning. As conservative pundit Rob Kendall indicates in NUVO, the primary fighting has been catnip for the press, but it’ll be trouble for whoever has to stitch the GOP back together after May.

From the Journal-GazetteGOP Senate race even, in money

Three rivals for the Republican nomination for an Indiana seat in the U.S. Senate began this year with roughly the same amount of money for their campaigns.

U.S. Rep. Luke Messer started 2018 with slightly more than $2.44 million in cash, U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita had nearly $2.43 million, and former state lawmaker Mike Braun had more than $2.31 million.

Rokita, R-4th, raised about $459,000 during the fourth quarter, and Messer, R-6th, raised roughly $427,000. Braun raised $2.52 million, including $2.35 million he lent his campaign, according to campaign finance reports the candidates filed recently with the Federal Election Commission.

Each of the three candidates hopes to win the chance to challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in the general election. Unopposed for his party’s nomination, Donnelly collected $1.1 million in campaign contributions during the fourth quarter and started this year with $5.33 million in cash, the campaign finance reports show.

From NUVODunbar: Republicans get nasty in Senate primary race

The primary has already earned national attention for its pettiness and incivility. Not because the substance of the attacks between candidates has been unusual. For the most part, it’s been standard accusations of hypocrisy, corruption and Beltway elitism. What’s been different is the sheer quantity and hysterical nature of such attacks — especially from Rokita and his campaign.

Both Rokita and Messer have campaigned as the “Trump candidate,” though neither endorsed Trump in the Republican presidential primary. For Messer, this has meant belaboring conservative pseudo-grievances about national anthem etiquette in the NFL. For Rokita, it has meant embodying the Trump persona: arrogant, caddish, and gimmicky.”

“This primary is going to be nasty,” Chicks on the Right producer and WIBC pundit Rob Kendall told me. “From a media perspective it’s going to be wildly entertaining, but I’m not sure it’s going to be good for the Republican Party coalescing.”

It’s fair to instinctively cringe whenever the media scolds candidates for using improper political table manners. More often than not it’s just lazy journalism and a cheap way of reinforcing the status quo. The problem with this primary isn’t the cattiness itself though, but the fact that (a) it’s clearly all for show and (b) when it isn’t, it still has no basis in political disagreements.

Rokita especially will do or say anything that promises votes; and he obviously believes his theatrics and maudlin emails will do just that.

From The Herald BulletinKen de la Bastide column: Primary filings produce some unexpected races

Despite all the bluster and speculation, the Republican Party battle for the U.S. Senate nomination to oppose incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly became a lesson in reality.

With the close of filing on Friday, the three candidates seeking the nomination came down to Messer, Rokita and Braun, which many in the national political media are labeling as the “meanest” primary in the nation.

Who emerges is unknown but a certainty is that there will be millions of dollars spent on the primary campaign.

The Donnelly campaign is probably smiling as it watches the GOP battle.