SLODYSKO, Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) —
Indiana Rep. Luke Messer announced Wednesday that he will challenge Sen. Joe
Donnelly, who is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for
re-election next year.
congressman, who represents Vice President Mike Pence's former southeastern
Indiana district, took to Twitter to make the announcement. "We're in," he
wrote in a post that also featured a campaign slogan: "I Like Luke."
other affiliated outside groups have signaled that they are willing to spend
vast sums to retake the seat that was long held by former Sen. Dick Lugar.
But already the GOP primary is shaping up to be a brutal affair that could
lead to months of Republicans fighting each other more than the incumbent
Messer and fellow
GOP Rep. Todd Rokita — who is also preparing a bid — for weeks have traded
insults and accusations, with both suggesting that the other is "unhinged."
In a recent email
blast to supporters, Messer said he was "tired of Todd Rokita lying about my
family." That came after Rokita raised questions about Messer's decision to
relocate his family to suburban Washington D.C. after his 2012 election.
Rokita also questioned a lucrative contract Messer's wife Jennifer holds
with an Indianapolis suburb for part-time legal work she does from home
Press first reported in May about Jennifer Messer's contract with the city
of Fishers, which pays her $240,000 a year to work as a part-time contract
attorney, a sum that is vastly more than either of the city's two staff
attorneys are paid — or many other government lawyers in the state.
"Todd's attacks on
me are especially remarkable because we've known each other for twenty-nine
years," Messer wrote. "What's changed? Now Todd Rokita wants to run for the
U.S. Senate, and it's clear that he will do and say almost anything to
advance his political career."
with a missive of his own, writing, "When someone politically connected is
pocketing $240,000 per year in taxpayer money for part-time work, Hoosiers
have a right to ask questions."
Messer has already
lined support from many of the state's most influential Republicans,
including the vice president's brother Greg Pence, who is serving as
campaign finance chairman. Messer is also supported by key Pence fundraiser
Marty Obst and Indiana Republican National Committeeman John Hammond III,
Responding to the
announcement, Donnelly campaign manager Peter Hanscom played up the
Democrat's record of bipartisanship and said "there's still only one person
on next year's Senate ballot who is deeply connected to the Hoosier
electorate and has a proven track record of working across party lines to
deliver for Hoosiers, and it's Joe Donnelly."
campaign was more focused on attacks from Rokita.
"I think when those
people see some of the nonsense and negativity that comes from the Todd
Rokita campaign they are going to be turned off," said Messer campaign
spokesman Jason Kneeland.