Braun, Messer agree to IDC debate; Rokita declines

Mar 9, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – Republican U.S. Senate candidates Mike Braun and Luke Messer have agreed to debate April 30 in a televised statewide event organized by the independent Indiana Debate Commission.

Braun, an auto parts distributor and former state representative, and Messer, a U.S. representative, will debate in a studio at public television station WFYI in Indianapolis from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT. The debate will be made available to television stations and other news organizations throughout the state.

U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, a third candidate who will be on the May 8 primary ballot, has declined the IDC’s invitation to debate. His campaign manager, Bryan Reed, cited scheduling conflicts and specified that Rokita will participate only in primary debates “organized and moderated by conservative Republicans.”

Rokita becomes the first candidate in the commission’s 10-year history to decline to participate in one of its debates.

“We are very pleased that two candidates have agreed to this debate, but we are equally disappointed that one has opted to decline,” said IDC President Gerry Lanosga.

“A contested primary should be heavily vetted by Hoosier voters and not by partisans, party officials or special interest groups,” Lanosga said. “A neutral option, such as one offered by the Indiana Debate Commission, makes the most sense.”

The moderator, in a format to be determined, will be Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, an Indiana politics blogger, radio host and attorney.

Voters will have the opportunity to submit questions that will be considered for the debate. Questions may be submitted through the IDC’s website at starting on a date to be announced later.

The commission also will conduct televised debates during the general election campaign season this fall.

The Indiana Debate Commission formed in 2007 with the mission of putting voters first by sponsoring and conducting statewide televised debates among candidates for statewide political office. Since its first debate season in 2008, the commission has conducted 18 statewide, televised debates during primary and general election campaigns for governor and U.S. Senate.

About the Indiana Debate Commission:

The Indiana Debate Commission is a nonpartisan, statewide group of citizen and organization affiliates dedicated to promoting debates at the state level. The volunteer commission, incorporated in 2007 and organized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, works with candidates, sponsors, venues and citizen groups with the motto of “Putting Voters First” to promote open and unbiased debates for Hoosier voters. For more information, visit or join the commission on Facebook or Twitter.