INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
The race to fill the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Dan Coats has turned
into an increasingly hostile war of words between two sitting Indiana GOP
congressmen, mimicking the broader conflict engulfing the party’s
U.S. Reps. Marlin
Stutzman and Todd Young, each elected to Congress in 2010, have campaigned
as stalwart conservatives on similar platforms. But with just over one month
until the May 3 primary, Young is trying to paint his tea party-backed rival
as an ideologue who prioritizes obstructionism over passing legislation. And
Stutzman has characterized Young as a pawn of the establishment at a time
when Americans are increasingly frustrated with “a system that benefits a
The tone of the
campaign has some similarities to the GOP presidential race, with
businessman Donald Trump and tea party-backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tapping
voter anger with Washington and forcing out of the race more mainstream
candidates such as former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio, both from
The Indiana Senate
race could have national implications as Democrats seek to pick up at least
four seats to retake control of the Senate. That’s a possibility Young
highlighted Wednesday, when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced it was
endorsing him. The chamber also reported it has spent $1 million for
television ads supporting Young, according to federal campaign data.
“We have too many
D.C. politicians - too many poseurs and pretenders who will talk a good
game, but do not have any results in the end to show for it,” said Young,
who recently got another boost when One Nation PAC - a group with ties to
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - announced it would run television
ads for him.
co-owns his family’s northea, says the chamber’s decision is “ironic” because
“I’m the business guy and they are endorsing the attorney.” He characterized
Young as a reliable “yes” vote for the priorities of GOP Congressional
leaders. Stutzman is a member of the Freedom Caucus of conservative
Republican House members whose aversion to compromise led to former House
Speaker John Boehner resigning last year.
people are starting to figure out that things are not getting any better for
us and they are tired of it,” Stutzman told The Associated Press, adding
that Young’s definition of accomplishment is “passing a bill out of the
House that goes nowhere in the Senate.”
The harsh words
followed a bitter turn in the campaign, when Stutzman and the Indiana
Democratic Party challenged Young’s candidacy, arguing he didn’t gather
enough voter signatures to legally qualify for the ballot.
The state Election
Division reported that Young had 501 signatures in the 1st Congressional
District, but Democrats and Stutzman challenged that number. An Associated
Press count of Young’s petitions found he was three signatures short. State
GOP leaders said the discrepancy was a sloppy oversight by Young.
But Young raised
$2.9 million in campaign finance, beating Stutzman’s haul by a 3-to-1 margin
in 2015, according to federal records.
during an Indiana Election Commission meeting - highlighting a schism in the
state GOP that pits the chamber of commerce Republican establishment against
tea party conservatives. But ultimately, the commission deadlocked 2-2 on
partisan lines, with a tie allowing Young to remain on the ballot.
Stutzman emerges from the primary to take on their candidate, former U.S.
Rep. Baron Hill. They view Stutzman as extremely conservative with an
outspoken nature that could turn off general election voters much like GOP
Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who made incendiary comments about
abortion and rape and lost the 2012 Senate race to Democrat Joe Donnelly.
“I’ve beaten Baron
Hill before. I can beat Baron Hill again,” said Young, who defeated Hill in
But Stutzman, who
has the financial backing of the conservative group Club for Growth, argues
it’s more about what Young would do in office.
“He’s not analyzing
the problems in Washington, he’s just playing the inside game,” Stutzman
told the AP. “As long as he votes the way leadership tells him to they are
going to support him.”