INDIANAPOLIS – Dramatic tensions between the two front-runners for next year’s Republican Senate nomination are spilling into the open as both candidates have begun taking public shots at each other, the Journal Gazette reported yesterday. In a campaign email last week, Congressman Rokita accused Congressman Messer of being behind last week’s Politico article on Congressman Rokita’s use of an LLC to reimburse himself with campaign funds for using his own private plane. Meanwhile, Congressman Messer’s team responded by pointing to Congressman Rokita’s history of “unhinged comments” in campaigns. Neither front-runner has formally entered the campaign yet, but both are already doing their part to make this member-on-member race the nastiest in the country.
“Republicans shouldn’t do this to other Republicans,” is the ominous lead to a blast fundraising email Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th, sent his supporters last week.
He then accuses Rep. Luke Messer, R-6th, of planting a negative story about him in Politico. Messer and Rokita are considering running for a seat in the U.S. Senate next year.
“Messer is attacking me for using my small prop plane to travel Indiana meeting Hoosiers – the same plane I use doing charity work for wounded veterans and sick children. He’s questioning my ethics. However, as the reporter notes, I have done nothing unethical and followed all relevant laws,” Rokita said in the email.
Rokita thinks Messer is trying to distract from a recent Associated Press story questioning a legal contract Messer’s wife, Jennifer, has with the city of Fishers.
Rokita, though, termed the article as being about Messer’s “residency issues – the same type of issues that imploded the campaigns of Dick Lugar and Evan Bayh in recent years.”
The AP article reports the Messers sold their home near Shelbyville and that the congressman is registered to vote at his mother’s house in Greensburg.
An official with the Messer campaign said “Rokita has a history of making unhinged comments. These comments are no different.”