No financial frontrunner in GOP primary as both sides prepare for a costly fight

INDIANAPOLIS – Neither of the two Republican front-runners were able to pull ahead after the first two quarters, and now a long, costly primary appears to be on the horizon if neither can lock up top donors.

Both Congressman Messer and Congressman Rokita gave reporters a taste of their second quarter fundraising figures yesterday, with Indy Politics reportingthat both men “are reporting $2 million in cash on hand for their respective campaign accounts.” The two men also finished the previous quarter with cash on hand totals that were broadly similar.

While Congressman Messer’s statewide fundraising committee and ties to Vice President Pence were supposed to give him the establishment ties to build a hefty fundraising lead, two consecutive quarters show that the donor race may actually be wide open. National Journal’s Hotline writes:

[Congressman Rokita’s] quarterly haul counters the narrative that Rep. Luke Messer has the GOP donor class locked up in Indiana…  It’s now clear Rokita could have the resources necessary to mount a competitive campaign, as he and Messer escalate their attacks against each other in one of the GOP’s top pick-up opportunities.

With neither candidate able to build up an insurmountable fundraising lead, a long, brutal primary appears increasingly likely. Sniping has already begun, with Congressman Messer accusing Congressman Rokita of a “history of unhinged comments,” while Congressman Rokita’s team has tried to take advantage of stories regarding Congressman Messer’s wife’s $20,000 retainer from the City of Fishers for part-time work.

“If Republicans were hoping one candidate would open a fundraising lead and put this primary away early, they’re going to be sadly mistaken,” said Will Baskin-Gerwitz, Senior Media Strategist for the Indiana Democratic Party. “Congressman Messer and Congressman Rokita are fighting with each other at every turn, whether for establishment donors or the nastiest insult, and they’ll continue to do so until May.”

 

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