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Thursday, July 13, 2017 11:39 am

Group urges Rokita, Messer to file for US Senate race

Niki Kelly | The Journal Gazette

The American Democracy Legal Fund wants Congressmen Todd Rokita and Luke Messer to stop waffling and file.

The group filed complaints this week against the two Indiana U.S. House representatives this week for campaigning for U.S. Senate in Indiana without filing as candidates for the office.

“They've made it clear that they're running for Senate and they should register as candidates immediately so that Indiana voters get the transparency in this election that they deserve," said Brad Woodhouse of ADLF.

Both Messer and Rokita have said they are considering running for the U.S. Senate post in 2018 but haven't made a decision.

Rokita campaign spokesman Tim Edson called the complaint a "baseless attack from a sleazy liberal Washington group ordered by Joe Donnelly."

Donnelly is the sitting U.S. Senator whom Rokita and Messer would take on in the fall if they make it through a primary.

Messer's campaign didn't respond to several messages seeking comment.

A news release from the American Democracy Legal Fund said federal election rules require individuals running for federal office to register and file financial reports when campaign activities go beyond testing the waters or when they raise or spend more than $5,000 in contributions or expenditures.

The group gave some examples about what each candidate is doing:

  • Rokita has publicly talked about his candidacy: he referred to himself as a candidate for Senate in an article, stating “I'm definitely the best candidate against [U.S. Senator from Indiana] Joe Donnelly."
  • Rokita hired a well-known Republican fundraiser to serve as chairman of his statewide finance committee but hasn't registered as a candidate for any statewide office.
  • Messer announced a 50-member statewide finance committee but is not registered as a candidate for any statewide office.
  • In the same announcement, Messer included a list of “Individuals Supporting Messer for United States Senate," and his deputy campaign manager said, "We look forward to welcoming additional members to the team who are committed to supporting Congressman Messer's continued service to Hoosiers.”

Both Messer and Rokita are up for re-election in the House next year as well.

nkelly@jg.net