A four-term congressman who’s vice chair of the U.S. House Budget Committee launched his U.S. Senate campaign Wednesday by attempting to target the so-called “Washington elite.”
Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg) formally entered the Senate race, becoming the sixth Republican candidate trying to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).
Rokita, a former two-term Indiana Secretary of State, joins a crowded GOP field that includes attorney Mark Hurt, businessman Terry Henderson, educator Andrew Takami, State Rep. Mike Braun (R-Jasper), and U.S. Rep. Luke Messer (R-Shelbyville).
In his announcement on the south steps of the Statehouse, Rokita saved the bulk of his attacks for Donnelly, but couldn’t resist a subtle dig at Messer, whose primary residence is in Virginia with his family.
“Some go to Washington and get caught up in the trappings of the town – the million dollar homes that they move their families into, the golf club memberships that sometimes are worth more than the average Hoosier home,” Rokita says.
Rokita’s voting record in Congress lines up almost identically with Messer’s…but Rokita claims he’s been a more independent voice for Hoosiers.
“And that tracks my record as secretary of state, frankly,” Rokita says. “It’s the same thing that I did when I had to go against the elites in my own party for redistricting reform.”
Rokita casts his campaign as a fight against the so-called “elite.” The Republican says the elite didn’t back him when he first ran for public office more than a decade ago.
“In fact, they tried to work against me, not unlike some are today. But the good, hardworking people all over Indiana did support me,” Rokita says.
Rokita calls himself a “true conservative” and continues to align himself with the current presidential administration.
“President Trump and Vice President Pence have an agenda that Hoosiers and Americans fully support,” Rokita says. “They need more partners in the Senate willing to challenge the status quo from both parties and take on the failed policies of the Washington elite.”
In a statement, Donnelly campaign manager Peter Hanscom says the Democratic senator has built a career on bipartisanship and predicts the race will come down to whichever candidate has the strongest connection to Hoosiers.
Rokita will kick off his campaign with a nine-stop tour around the state.