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The drunk RINO, the lying bumper sticker, and the crook

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Having lost the Senate seat in Indiana due to a weak candidate in 2012, Republicans are trying to take back the seat. It should be relatively easy to win a Senate seat from a state that swung Trump in 2016, but the GOP sure is making it hard on themselves. The candidates who seek to unseat Joe Donnelly are already faltering with the enormous smell of weakness. The three hopefuls: Luke Messer, Todd Rokita and Mike Braun are stumbling to the finish line in the hopes that the other two fall on their faces first.

The Drunk RINO

It sounds like a politically themed bar name, but the honor of this title goes to Luke Messer. The is little doubt that Messer would contribute to the ineffectiveness of the Senate. Too few Republicans in the Senate stand by the principles that they campaign on and Luke Messer is one of them but in the House. Messer supported the Omnibus spending bill which spent money we don’t have to increase a government that’s too big. On the endorsement front, Messer has Rep. Susan Brooks of District 5. She is also a notorious RINO. The “drunk” part of the title refers to how by omission, Messer lied about his drunk driving arrest when running for the House. This is particularly substantial because of the circumstances at the time in which Messer replaced a lawmaker killed by a drunk driver. Having won the seat concealing damning information means that Messer has sat on a throne of lies for decades.

The Lying Bumper Sticker

Where fellow Congressman, Todd Rokita, stands apart from Luke Messer is his Conservative voting record in the House. Rokita did not vote for Omnibus and otherwise has a much stronger record voting. Yet even after deviating from Trump from the right, Rokita has sought in his campaign to tie himself as close to Trump as humanly possible. This is disingenuous since, by certain standards, it is Luke Messer who is most aligned with the President. However the offense most gravely concerning Rokita’s campaign was his staff taking the endorsement of Trump’s Indiana team a little too far. On yard signs intentionally mislead by implying the endorsement of the President himself. Though there was fine print, the intent is there nonetheless. This offense brought rebuke from the Trump Campaign and is the most damaging wound to the GOP hopeful.

Yard signs are not the same as bumper stickers though. That is to say the “lying” portion of Todd Rokita has been covered. The bumper sticker was not his misleading yard signs but his mouth. There isn’t an original thought or policy that comes out of his mouth. “Guns don’t kill people.”

Todd Rokita is more interested in using cute bumper sticker lines than using succinct riginal thought. For that reason he sounds like the elite he is trying to defeat.

The Crook

Mike Braun is the “political outsider” or so he’d have us believe. Indeed, he is self funding his campaign but similarly to Trump he isn’t actually an outsider, and unlike Trump he isn’t actually unique compared to a politician. Matt Bruan is currently a Representative in the Indiana House. But his record in the House is far from Conservative, and further from someone who genuinely believes in the free market. In 2017, the vote that causes him the most grief, particularly from Rokita, was his vote for a 55% gas tax increase in a bill that allowed for automatic hikes without additional legislative approval. Additionally, Braun voted against reducing regulations on hair braiders and increased regulation on car dealerships. Braun doesn’t have a record that would indicate he would vote Conservative when it counts. In all likelihood, Braun in the Senate would be adding an additional RINO to the herd.

But aside from gambling on his principles, one of the chief concerns is his cronyism. A report from the Indy Star Times states:

But during his short tenure as a state lawmaker, Braun worked to reduce taxes and regulations on an industry in which he holds a significant personal financial interest — a connection that raises ethical concerns, critics say.

Braun owns more than 5,000 acres of timber land in southern Indiana valued at more than $5 million. He harvests the trees on that land for hardwood, yielding tens of thousands of dollars in income each year.

At the same time, he successfully pushed legislation at the Statehouse that provided millions of dollars in tax breaks for the timber industry and cut regulatory costs for hauling logs. He also tried unsuccessfully to put new limits on logging in state forests, potentially forcing more logging onto private timber lands like his.

The exact bill HB 1089 seems to have provided Braun with financial gain in an industry specific to his background. While the benefit of the doubt ought to be afforded, the evidence of Braun’s behavior is substantial. Braun is not simply a believer of the free market, voting on bills that so happen to benefit him personally. If Braun’s actions were principled why weren’t the hair braiders or Telsa afforded the same luxury of fewer regulations? Furthermore Indy Star points out his record.

  • A tax break in 2015 that exempted tree harvesting equipment from state sales tax. The measure saved the industry $1.8 million to $2.7 million a year, according to a fiscal note. 
  • Looser regulations on logging trucks, allowing them to carry more weight. The 2017 law effectively cut the cost of hauling timber from forests to saw mills.
  • Limits on logging in state forests, which compete with private timber land as a source of hardwood. The 2016 legislation would have prohibited the state forestry division from cutting down trees on at least 10 percent of the land in each state forest. The proposal put Braun at odds with the administration of then-Gov. Mike Pence and the bill failed to advance.

His industry specific legislation is enough to point out that the line between public policy and personal gain is blurred at very least and molested at worst.

My Take

This is a terrible field of candidates. In a state where Trump won by 19, the Republicans are fielding candidates that are giving Joe Donnelly the best chance at keeping his seat. The safest bet in this race is Todd Rokita who is the only candidate with a Conservative voting record. Messer is a RINO and Braun a cronyist. Their behavior in the Senate will be as such. We always say we don’t want RINOs, but somehow they keep getting voted into office. Proper vetting of candidates is a surefire way to prevent voting RINOs in office, at least when information is as widely available as it is for this race. After vetting the three candidates, Rokita stands out as the one least likely to contribute to out of control government spending and voter betrayal in the Senate.

For more candidate vetting in Indiana or your state, stay tuned. We’re planning on writing up all fifty this primary season.

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