INDIANAPOLIS – Congressman Messer’s continued refusal to explain why he missed Thursday’s unity rally shows that the Indiana GOP is far from unifying after “GOP’s nastiest primary” ended last week.
Congressman Messer’s unexplained absence from Thursday’s rally with Rep. Braun, President Trump, and former Governor Pence created headlines from across the state and undercut the unity message the party hoped to project. And any hopes that Congressman Messer would end the controversy by endorsing Rep. Braun have been dashed by his continued silence. Five days on, Congressman Messer has yet to explain his absence from the event and whether he’ll throw his support behind Rep. Braun as the GOP’s Senate nominee.
Bad blood between Congressman Messer and Rep. Braun – which wouldn’t be surprising after such a brutal and personal primary – could spell trouble for Rep. Braun’s campaign. Congressman Messer had the backing of Indiana’s GOP donor class, a crucial group in light of Rep. Braun’s promises that he won’t self-fund his general election campaign. Should those donors withhold their support, Rep. Braun’s campaign may struggle to compete in a general election. Relationships between the two candidates were already strained after a pro-Congressman Messer super PAC aired hundreds of thousands of dollars in ads attacking Rep. Braun in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s primary.
“As much as the Indiana GOP tries to pretend the nation’s nastiest primary didn’t happen within its ranks, Congressman Messer’s continued silence makes clear its scars are far from healed,” said Michael Feldman, spokesman for the Indiana Democratic Party. “If the Indiana GOP is unified, why won’t Congressman Messer put questions about his absence to rest? Rep. Braun still has to bring his opponents and their supporters back into the fold before he can think about winning over any voters who were turned off by such a nasty and divisive primary.”