GOP in-fighting opens window for 3rd major GOP candidate, may weaken eventual nominee, sources say
INDIANAPOLIS – In a sign of how startling the exploding feud this week between Congressman Messer and Congressman Rokita has become, Indiana’s conservative media can’t help but speak up and ask the GOP’s two front-runners to slow down and stop the personal attacks, or at least finally declare for the race.
The fighting between the two men in interviews and emails has steadily escalated this week, culminating in competing online blasts to supporters. The bombardment has caught the attention of many Hoosiers surprised that the level of vitriol is so high this early, when there are still 10 months to go before the primary and neither candidate has formally declared.
Conservative commentators across the state have begun to become concerned about how the primary will play out if the attacks keep up at this rate. Notably, the editorial page of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel has weighed in, warning readers of the paper yesterday that the candidates are “too busy beating each other up” to focus on the seat itself. “Hoosier voters deserve a lively… campaign over substantive issues,” the editorial continued, “not personalities and personal issues.”
The editorial is just the latest opinion from the right on the matter. After Congressman Rokita spent much of the weekend comparing the two GOP candidates’ fundraising numbers, WIBC’s Rob Kendall indirectly criticized him, writing on Twitter that “If you’re talking about how much money you’ve raised & [are] comparing yourself to a future primary opponent, [you] should stop the charade and declare.”
By far the most dire warning to Republicans, however, has come from Indy Politics. While Abdul-Hakim Shabazz has had compliments for Joe Donnellythis year, he made clear that the fight between Congressmen Messer and Rokita may be the two candidates’ worst case scenario, giving Joe an easier road and all but inviting additional entries into the race:
Here are a few things to keep in mind going forward.
- The primary is 10 months away.
- Both Messer and Rokita are virtually tied in fundraising.
- Joe Donnelly has nearly as much in the bank as the two combined and no primary opponent.
- If a third major candidate was thinking about getting in the race, this just might do it.
“Indiana’s conservatives are right to be startled: with 10 months until the primary, the anger between Congressmen Messer and Rokita isn’t going to die down,” said Will Baskin-Gerwitz, Senior Media Strategist for the Indiana Democratic Party. “While the Republican front-runners’ aggressive, personal attacks may be a sign for additional divisive candidates to enter the race, the coming primary is sure to leave the eventual winner crippled next year.”