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In Indiana GOP Primary, Candidates Try To 'Out-Trump' Each Other

10 May 2018

Businessman and former state lawmaker Mike Braun received a flurry of phone calls late Tuesday night, including from President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he said in the hours following his primary victory against two well-established Republican congressmen. He says the bruising Republican primary, in which Braun and Congressmen Todd Rokita and Luke Messer each campaigned as unswerving backers of President Trump, suggests a misunderstanding of the job they're seeking.

The winners of Republican Senate primaries in West Virginia, Indiana and OH prevailed in multimillion-dollar contests to prove themselves the most willing to take on the Washington elite.

The races in both states are classified as tossups by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, while the OH contest is rated as "lean Democratic".

In Indiana, an analysis by Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group for USA TODAY NETWORK found that all of Messer's and Rokita's ads that aired through April included a reference to Trump, only 12% of Braun's did.

In the OH governor's race, CNN projects that former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray will fend off former Rep. Dennis Kucinich for the Democratic nomination in the race to replace John Kasich, while Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine will best Kasich's lieutenant governor, Mary Taylor.

"When it comes to Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, it was a hard decision for me, because we were all good conservatives and sometimes it gets a little hard to differentiate the process of doing it, it gets intense, it gets harsh, but I hope they will join me just like I would with them", said Braun.

"Remember Joe Donnelly voted for Obamacare".

GOP Senate candidate Jim Renacci said repeatedly Tuesday that OH is now a Trump state.

"If we get enough of us there, I think we'll actually start to solve some of these issues that have been vexing politicians", Braun said.

Braun had raised more than $5.9 million through mid-April, including more than $5.4 million he lent his campaign.

Tuesday's Republican and Democratic primaries in West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina provided some clues about what to expect in the upcoming November midterm elections - including warning signs for Democrats.

FOX59 spoke with Sen.

Donnelly says he hopes to make health care and jobs the centerpiece of the campaign, but says he's "ready for a fight".

"I want to congratulate Mike Braun on his victory tonight".

An online ad by the Democrat-affiliated group American Bridge, released shortly after Braun clinched the nomination, previewed what could be a major line of attack.

These three states were interesting for another reason.

"We certainly are going to be competitive, yeah", McConnell said. "But anytime you have a divisive primary, it's going to obviously help Donnelly", Republican Indiana donor Bob Grand said during a recent interview. "Mike Braun will take a message of goal with him to Washington as a U.S. Senator, and be a strong partner for me and for all Hoosiers".

Former Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke wondered before the primary whether the losing candidates' supporters would warm up to the nominee.

But Braun, too, has his own liabilities when it comes to free trade, with records showing that his company regularly does business with manufacturers in China. He voted against tax reform. "My job is to work nonstop for Hoosiers".

Braun was elected to the Indiana State House as a Republican in 2014.

"It's still a very Republican state". Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, in television advertising.

Braun is expected to attend a rally in Elkhart Thursday with President Trump and Vice President Pence.

The only man now standing in Braun's way is incumbent Senator Joe Donnelly. "Hoosiers will continue to be reminded of Mexico Joe's blatant hypocrisy". But it doesn't stop there.

In West Virginia, Jenkins, a current House member, came in second in his bid for his party's nomination for Senate.