INDIANAPOLIS – The vicious back-and-forth between Congressmen Rokita and Messer has earned them a pair of blistering columns back home, each with a different comparison questioning the candidates’ maturity and struggling to picture them in a chamber where “thoughtful” senators like Joe Donnelly reside. With another nine months to go in the increasingly desperate primary, Hoosiers will surely have ample opportunities to decide which comparison is more fitting.
Memo to Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita:
For goodness sakes, guys, it’s a United States Senate seat you’re seeking. Treat it with some respect. Show it some dignity.
I know the Senate hasn’t been too impressive too often of late. But with its rules, powers and traditions, and its history of political giants and historic debates, it’s still worthy of at least your respect.
So far, you’ve run your Senate campaigns (official or not) like contestants vying for airtime on a reality TV show. And while that might fit 2017 perfectly, it’s embarrassing for a couple of guys who now reside in the House of Representatives and are seeking to move up to the upper chamber — a place that has been called the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, a chamber that has employed the likes of Richard Lugar and Birch Bayh, and a chamber that from time to time is asked to rise above politics and lead the nation through tremendous challenges.
Seriously, show it some respect.
I get it. Republicans desperately want to grab back the coveted Senate seat that Democrat Joe Donnelly won five years ago. They can taste it. They can smell it. They want it.
They’ve wanted it since Donnelly won his 2012 election in this red state with the help of a Republican nominee whose views and statements scared off all but the most loyal of Republican voters. They’ve wanted it while watching in fear as Donnelly has emerged as one of the country’s most bipartisan and sensible senators.
It’s not about ideology or securing the GOP majority. It’s about ego. It’s about two men who, when it comes to your voting records and policy stances, are largely one in the same. If this was about solidifying the GOP majority, you wouldn’t be trashing each other in such personal terms and giving Democrats so much fodder to use against either of you next year.
The scraps has been more silly than serious. As my colleagues Kaitlin L. Lange and Tony Cook so thoroughly reported this week, there have been all sorts of petty political and personal skirmishes between two grown men who have known each other since college. In a campaign filled with vitriol, you’ve called each other “unhinged.” You’ve labeled each other liars. You have each made accusations that the other has “planted” unflattering stories in the press. You’ve been fighting about changes someone made to Messer’s Wikipedia bio. Your disdain for each other has come shining through.
All this and more from a pair of politicians who want to serve in the United States Senate. I’ve long said that there is a place in politics for antics like this: It’s called the House. …
We need serious senators. We need senators who, like Donnelly, arrive in the chamber having proved they are thoughtful and able to focus on the right things. We need senators who make more news for their policy ideas than their petty disputes. We need senators who act like senators.
If that is too much to ask of you, well then maybe you should both just stay in the House.
INDIANAPOLIS – If the race for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat on the ballot next year were a day care, both U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, R-Indiana, and U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Indiana, already would be in time out.
Messer and Rokita are the two leading candidates to square off against the incumbent, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana.
True products of the age of Trump, Messer and Rokita both seem to believe the prize always goes to the boy who is the worst-behaved. On a nearly daily basis, their campaigns send out statements or issue press releases in which they call each other or Donnelly names.
Keep in mind that we’re still nine months away from the May primary and the general election is well more than a year distant. If the boys are being this nasty now, think about what they’ll be like when they’re desperate and running on the edge of exhaustion.
It isn’t pretty to ponder, is it?
There are a couple of things that are disturbing about this ongoing indulgence in boorish behavior.
The first is the assumption inherent in the Rokita and Messer approach – that Hoosiers prefer to make their decisions in the gutter. My roots in this state go back a couple centuries. I know people in Indiana are conservative, but they’re rarely impolite. They know the difference between being tough and just being nasty.
I doubt Messer and Rokita are fooling many people about where they fall on that scale.