Clinging to Trump May Backfire in November

“In West Virginia and Indiana, the Republican Senate primary fights have morphed into multi-candidate battle royals with the combatants focused on one mission: out-Trumping their opponents,” NBC News reports.

“Tuesday’s primary votes will tell us if the strategy worked, but some key numbers in the states explain all the one-Trumpsmanship – at least for primary season. For starters, both states not only went for Trump in 2016, the president did much better than 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney.”

“But after Tuesday, the Senate races in both those states will cast an eye toward November’s general election, and there the I’m-with-Trump strategy could get a little more complicated even in places that appear to be deep Trump country.”

A GOP Circular Firing Squad In Indiana’s Senate Primary

NBC News: “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-IN) 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.”

Senate Candidate Did Not Disclose DUI Convictions

“In U.S. Senate candidate Luke Messer’s (R) first successful run for public office, he had to persuade a caucus of local party insiders that he was the right man to replace state Rep. Roland Stine, a beloved schoolteacher who was killed by a drunken driver less than a month earlier,” the Indianapolis Star reports.

“That position would launch his political career and eventually land him a spot as a top Republican in Congress.”

“But Messer had a secret: He himself had two drunken driving convictions.”

All In for Trump

Rep. Todd Rokita’s (R-IN) new ad in the Indiana U.S. Senate race discusses no policy issues and says basically nothing besides, “I will support Trump the most.”

Aaron Blake: “The ad is a remarkable little window into how at least one candidate thinks you win in today’s GOP, and Rokita hopes it’s his ticket to the Republican nomination to face Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) next month.”

Bruising GOP Primary Fights Worry Party Leaders

“In many parts of the country, Republican candidates are trying to put distance between themselves and President Trump. In the Indiana Senate primary, the bruising fight is over which candidate is the more authentically Trumpian,” the New York Times reports.

“As the May 8 primary election approaches, the race here has taken a nasty turn, with candidates attacking one another as insufficiently aligned with the president, or way too late to Team Trump. Some Republicans worry that the tenor has the potential to bloody the winner so badly that he will be weakened in the general election contest against Sen. Joe Donnelly, one of this election year’s most vulnerable Democrats.”

“The Indiana primary is among several, including those in West Virginia and Wisconsin, where Republicans are locked in nominating battles in states Mr. Trump won in 2016 and where the party has hoped to add to its slender two-seat majority.”

Messer’s D.C. Home Draws Attention In Indiana

“A campaign stop for Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) in his bid for Senate involves traveling from his family’s home in suburban Washington back to Indiana, where he typically stays overnight with his mom,” the AP reports.

“Although living outside the state is hardly a first for members of Indiana’s congressional delegation, past elections signal Messer’s address could complicate his plans to win the Republican primary and ultimately unseat Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) next year.”

“Towering figures in Indiana politics, including former Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh and Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, were toppled in recent years after struggling to explain whether they still lived in the state. Others took major steps to head off the issue, including former GOP Sen. Dan Coats, who rented and later purchased a home in Indiana, while selling off one elsewhere.”

How to Chauffeur Rokita Around His District

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), who is running in one of next year’s most competitive Senate races, has an 8-page memo for staff on how to properly escort the congressman around his district, Politico reports.

“Tasks listed in the document, entitled ‘Instructions on Staffing and Driving — District Version,’ include handing Rokita a cup of black coffee upon picking him up at his home, acting as a physical barrier between him and trackers looking to capture embarrassing footage of the congressman, and ‘avoid[ing] sudden acceleration or braking’ while driving.”

“Drivers are expected to transport not only Rokita’s toothbrush and toothpaste but also stock and tote around the district a nearly 20-item supply box that Rokita’s staffers call ‘the football.’ The contents include gum, hand sanitizer, business cards, bottled water, napkins and Kleenex, Lozenges-brand cough drops, a stapler and stapler remover, Post-it notes and Shout wipes, among other items.”

The GOP’s Nastiest Senate Primary

Politico: “The slugfest underway between Republican Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita in Indiana isn’t just for the right to compete for possibly the GOP’s best opportunity to seize a Senate seat from Democrats in next year’s midterms.”

“It’s a chance to finally settle the score between two ambitious pols who’ve been vying to outdo one another politically since they graduated from the same small college more than 25 years ago.”

“Yes, this one is personal.”

Donnelly Profits from Same Outsourcing He Slams

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) “railed against Carrier Corp. for moving manufacturing jobs to Mexico last year, even as he profited from a family business that relies on Mexican labor to produce dye for ink pads,” the AP reports.

“Donnelly, considered one of the nation’s most vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election next year, has long blasted free-trade policies for killing American jobs… However, an arts and crafts business Donnelly’s family has owned for generations is capitalizing on some of the very trade policies — and low-paid foreign labor — the senator has denounced.”

Bayh Didn’t Stay In Condo At All In 2010

“Evan Bayh says that his Indianapolis condominium has long been his home, and that he has spent ‘lots and lots’ of time there since deciding to run for his old Senate seat. But a copy of his schedule shows Bayh did not stay overnight there once during his last year in office in 2010.”

“The schedule provided to The Associated Press shows the Democrat spent taxpayer money, campaign funds or let other people pay for him to stay in Indianapolis hotels on the relatively rare occasions he returned from Washington, D.C. During the same period, he spent $3,000 in taxpayer money on what appeared to be job hunting trips to New York, despite the assertion of his campaign that the trips were devoted to official media appearances.”

Job Hunt Was a Big Part of Bayh’s Last Year

“Evan Bayh spent substantial time during his last year in the Senate searching for a job in the private sector, even as he cast votes on issues of interest to his future corporate bosses, according to the former Indiana lawmaker’s 2010 schedule,” obtained exclusively by the Associated Press.

“A 2007 law requires senators to file a disclosure with the secretary of the Senate within three days of beginning negotiations for private-sector employment. But after the law went into effect, the Senate Ethics Committee defined negotiations as employment discussions that occur after a job offer has been made.”

Republicans Pounce on Vulnerable Bayh In Indiana

“When Evan Bayh made his late leap into Indiana’s Senate race in July, he looked like a lock to take back his old seat. Now, no one is so sure,” Politico reports.

“Democrats hoped to scare Republicans out of competing for Indiana altogether with an early show of force this summer, essentially locking up a third Senate pick-up from Republicans’ 54-seat majority before the fall campaign even got started. But the GOP has instead poured millions into bashing Bayh and is now redoubling its efforts, as multiple independent surveys now show a much closer campaign than Democratic polls released this summer — and with that, less margin for error in Democrats’ drive to retake the majority, which recently expanded into new vulnerable GOP-held states but has also been set back by developments in Florida and Ohio.”