In the three-way Republican race to unseat Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly, a very-nearly Blue Dog who paints himself even more blue, the candidates have almost achieved Peak Accusation: none of them (if you listen to the others) loves President Trump enough to be worthy of the job!
Self-positioned outsider (despite two terms in the Indiana House of Representatives) Mike Braun hit first, accusing his more experienced opponents, U. S. Representatives Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, of being "almost identical" and having "voted to fast-track Obama's trade deal," while he's the guy "President Trump needs."
Congressman Rokita hit back, calling out the other two as "not conservative;" his ad describes two-term GOP state legislator Braun a "lifelong Democrat" who "voted for Hillary or Obama" and "hiked our taxes forty-five times," while Messer is named a "never-Trump lobbyist" who "supported amnesty for illegals and raised our taxes by a billion dollars."
And one of the other two -- I can't find the ad now -- has found a quote from Todd Rokita critical of President Trump and is featuring it in their commercials.
According to each of them, the other two are not nearly Trumpian enough. Possibly they're all correct.
All three men are four-square against abortion -- just like incumbent Joe Donnelly -- anti-(illegal)-immigration (the incumbent's a little wishy-washy) and pro-gun (Good Ol' Joe is A-rated by NRA, but he's squishy and took part in the 2016 Democrat filbuster for gun control). Each of the Republican candidates promises to be President Trump's BFF.
Meanwhile, a series of lower-key pro- and anti-Joe Donnelly TV commercials both feature frequent mentions of his name and images of the Senator himself, in all his suit-and-tie glory. After either one, you're left with a strong impression of his face and his name -- which may be the point.
Senator Donnelly is rated as one of the most vulnerable of the Democrat incumbents up for re-election in 2018. I'm starting to see why the incumbent so often has an advantage: by the time the general election comes around, the other party's primary fight has given them all the opposition research they could hope for, free and clear.
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