INDIANAPOLIS – A trio of stories out this morning highlight the toll that the “nation’s nastiest primary” has taken on the eventual GOP nominee as Indiana’s primary enters its last full week. Instead of trying to make their cases to voters, Congressmen Messer and Rokita and Rep. Braun have continued to throw mud at each other. In Indiana and Washington, it’s clear that Republicans are coming to grips with the fact that no matter who becomes their nominee next week, the last year may have already irreparably harmed whoever runs against Joe Donnelly.
Drunken driving, self-dealing and false advertising.
Those are just some of the charges voters here are sifting through in a brutal three-way Republican primary that will determine who gets to take on Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., in November. That contest on May 8 is one of a handful across the country that will determine which party controls the Senate next year, and Republicans believe they have a good shot at winning the seat.
The primary in Vice President Mike Pence’s home state has turned personal largely because there’s hardly a whit of policy difference among the three GOP candidates — Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, and former state Rep. Mike Braun. They’re all against abortion, taxes and the growth of entitlement spending, and they’re all doing their best to portray themselves as the second coming of President Donald Trump.
Voters here will welcome the end of the ugliness in eight days.
“I wish they’d talk about the issues, not each other,” said Cynthia Schrodt, 62, an undecided Republican voter.
From Real Clear Politics: Bitter GOP Primary May Benefit Donnelly in Indiana
Republicans acknowledge the primary race between Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita and businessman Mike Braun has been perhaps the most negative of this election cycle, and don’t dispute that it has aided Donnelly. Additionally, they don’t know who will emerge as the nominee, as there has been a dearth of public polling on the contest.
Still, Democrats believe the Hoosier Republican candidates’ vulnerabilities have been packaged together, allowing them to start attacking immediately after the primary. All three challengers have had negative stories in the press that Democrats could highlight in the general election campaign, and they’ve been running negative ads attacking one another on TV. In a debate earlier this month, Braun — a former state legislator — said his two opponents had made politics their career; Rokita argued he was the only Republican on stage who hadn’t voted to raise Hoosiers’ taxes; and Messer called Braun a “lifelong Democrat” and said Rokita “doesn’t vote with the president on the tough votes.”
From the Washington Times: Indiana Republican Senate candidates trading punches to very end
The GOP Senate race in Indiana started off ugly and is ending in similar fashion, with the candidates trading barbs — in one case symbolic punches — over everything from where they live to drunken rap sheets to their fidelity to President Trump.
Mr. Donnelly could end up benefiting from the nastiness of the GOPprimary race, said Joshua Kaplan, political science professor at the University of Notre Dame.
“The three contenders for the Republican Senate nomination are not very different from one another politically, so they are grasping to find ways to stand out, and there’s a temptation to do that by going negative and personal,” Mr. Kaplan said.