After months of speculation, Indiana Rep. Luke Messer made his run for U.S. Senate official on Wednesday. The congressman tweeted the announcement.
— Luke Messer (@LukeMesserIN) July 26, 2017
Messer, a Republican representing Indiana’s 6th District, is joining a growing GOP field of contenders mounting a challenge to Sen. Joe Donnelly, an incumbent Democrat. There may be as many as seven candidates in the upcoming GOP primary: state Rep. Mike Braun, state Sen. Mike Delph, Attorney General Curtis Hill and others are also considering bids. However, it may be Rep. Todd Rokita who poses the biggest challenge – the two graduates of Wabash College are considered top-tier candidates in this race. Both men represent districts in the Indianapolis suburbs.
Rokita is strongly expected to announce a run for Senate sometime soon. A representative of Indiana’s 4th District, Rokita raked in substantially more money in the second quarter of fundraising than Messer. The latter hauled in just $578,000 in donations compared to Rokita’s $1 million.
According to an OnMessage Inc. poll, Messer and Rokita are tied at 23 percent in a seven-way Republican primary. However, in a head-to-head match up, Messer slightly edges ahead at 27 to 26 percent.
The winner of the GOP primary will face Sen. Donnelly in the 2018 general election. While campaigning against an incumbent is never an easy endeavor, the environment appears ripe for Republican gains. The state’s former governor is now the vice president of the United States and Hoosier voters went Trump’s way by a resounding margin (19 points) last year. Remember, Donnelly was swept into office in 2012 after Indiana Republicans shot themselves in the foot by nominating a flawed candidate. It’s likely magic wont happen twice for the Democrat. Inside Elections’ Nathan L. Gonzales currently rates this race as a Toss-up – as does Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball.
Indiana is prime real estate for Senate Republicans to widen their majority in the upper chamber.