INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Mike Braun, the leading third quarter fundraiser for the GOP Senate primary, claims that he’s the party’s pro-business candidate. When Hoosier businesses of all stripes stood up and opposed a catastrophic, bigoted law, however, Rep. Braun sided against them and voted for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
Rep. Braun made clear he was one of the leading candidates in May’s GOP Senate primary after raising $1 million in the third quarter, including a roughly $800,000 contribution from his own pockets—likely enough to make him the fundraising leader among GOP candidates for the quarter. He hopes to build on this momentum to establish himself as the pro-business outsider in the primary. It’s a path that should be feasible thanks to his ownership of Meyer Distributing, a successful auto parts distributor he owns that has given him the income to self-fund his campaign.
When the stakes were at their highest, however, Rep. Braun found himself on the opposite side of the business community. In 2015, Indiana businesses from across the spectrum – from mom-and-pop corner stores to major corporations like Lilly and Salesforce – banded together to fight back against the discriminatory RFRA. With organizations threatening to boycott Indiana and Indiana businesses threatening to halt expansions or leave, it was clear the law was destructive.
The worries of the business community clearly did not concern Rep. Braun, however. He voted to pass RFRA and allow businesses to discriminate against Hoosiers, setting off the firestorm that engulfed the state. “This is one of those cases where you have to choose a path and if you pick the wrong one you wind up paying for it for a long time,” Rep. Braun said shortly after the vote. Even after the “business” candidate supported a bill that divided the state, set the business community against him, and seemed as though it would cost Hoosiers hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s unclear if he believes he’ll wind up paying for it next year.
“Rep. Braun can talk all he likes about his business credentials, but Indiana businesses across the spectrum and the Hoosiers they employ remember where he stood,” said Will Baskin-Gerwitz, Senior Media Strategist for the Indiana Democratic Party. “Instead of standing for equality and growth, his bigoted vote took our state, and our economy, backwards.”