“Laughable” and “nasty”: Critics are panning Congressman Rokita’s campaign launch

INDIANAPOLIS – Congressman Rokita finally made his vicious, divisive campaign for U.S. Senate official yesterday and was greeted largely with derision. His announcement has furthered plenty of narratives around the race, none of which seem to be good for him or Republicans hoping to take the Senate seat. How’s his entry in the race being covered?

Most reporters are focused on the hypocrisy of a politician who’s been in Washington for seven years, and an elected official for 15, running against Washington with a slogan of “defeat the elite.”

Indy Star: HEADLINE: Tully: Todd Rokita’s campaign stuffed with baloney

 “While far too many campaigns to count have been driven by cynicism and a belief that voters are an uninformed collection of schmucks, Rokita has found a way to top just about everyone else… His new message, delivered in a campaign ad filled with clichés and cheap shots, is almost laughable in its hypocrisy and willingness to say just about anything to get elected…Now do I really have to remind you that Rokita has served in the House majority in Washington for seven years? And unlike his main primary opponent, Luke Messer, or incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, Rokita has not done anything to tone down the nasty partisanship plaguing Washington. Of the three, Rokita has contributed most to the toxic nature of partisan politics in Washington. Something is indeed wrong in Washington, and Rokita has played a big part in it.” [Indy Star, 8/10/17]

“The four-term congressman and former Indiana secretary of state walked off without speaking to reporters about why he shouldn’t be considered part of “the elite,” as a member of a 435-person body that represents 325 million Americans where he serves as vice chairman of the House Budget Committee. He did say that returning to Indiana every week keeps him grounded in the real-life issues faced by Hoosiers, a not-so-veiled shot at his most prominent primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, R-Shelbyville, who moved his family to Virginia after being elected to Congress.” [NWI Times, 8/9/17]

Alternatively, with Congressman Rokita becoming the sixth Republican to declare for the race, reports focused on the “overcrowded” primary, wondering how ugly the fight between Congressmen Messer and Rokita can get now that both candidates have declared.

WANE: HEADLINE: Republican ticket for Senate becoming ‘overcrowded’
WIBC: HEADLINE: And Then There Were Six: Rokita Joins GOP Senate Race
Indiana Public Media: HEADLINE: Rokita Launches Senate Bid In Crowded Republican Field

The nastiest race in politics can officially begin after U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita announced his candidacy this morning for a U.S. Senate seat representing Indiana…Rokita is the sixth announced Republican Senate candidate.” [Journal Gazette, 8/9/17]

“Republican Todd Rokita is taking aim at “lobbyists, bureaucrats, politicians and the media” as he prepares to launch his campaign for Senate in Indiana, a race that has already sparked an intraparty feud with congressional colleague Luke Messer.” [AP, 8/8/17]

“A four-term congressman who’s vice chair of the U.S. House Budget Committee launched his U.S. Senate campaign Wednesday by attempting to target the so-called ‘Washington elite’…Rokita’s voting record in Congress lines up almost identically with Messer’s…but Rokita claims he’s been a more independent voice for Hoosiers.” [IPM, 8/9/17]

“But Rokita, a former Indiana secretary of state who serves as vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, could have some vulnerabilities of his own in the primary race. He is known for making off-the-cuff remarks that have drawn blowback. And Rokita has also angered a number of fellow Indiana Republicans, who view him as abrasive, difficult to work with and self-serving.” [AP, 8/9/17]

“Rep. Todd Rokita (R) officially jumped into the Indiana Senate race on Wednesday, a long-expected decision that formalizes what’s already become a brutal Republican primary…The Indiana congressman has long been gearing up for a bid and has not shied away from bruising battles with GOP opponent fellow Rep. Luke Messer (Ind.), with whom he has sparred for months in one of the more contentious primaries ahead of the 2018 midterms.” [The Hill, 8/9/17]

Also notable? Congressman Rokita’s attempts to position himself against Indiana Republican leaders, standing with hardline State Senator and gas tax opponent Mike Delph yesterday while hitting Governor Holcomb and legislative leaders for raising the tax. State Senate President Pro Tem David Long endorsed Congressman Messer only 24 hours later.

“And in Congress,” Rokita continued… “I brought over $5 billion back to Indiana over a five-year period 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.” That was a barb aimed at Gov. Eric Holcomb and General Assembly leaders who raised fuel taxes and user fees for a 20-year road funding plan. Sen. Delph has been critical of the gas tax hike.” [Howey Politics, 8/10/17]

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