The Campaign Spot

If Dan Wins Tomorrow, We’ll Have to See if He Has Coats-Tails

Indiana’s primary day is tomorrow, and for Republicans, the big fight is in the Senate race. I chatted with frontrunner Dan Coats here, and looked at the three leading Republicans here.

As a congressman, John Hostettler never seemed that interested in fundraising, and he’s demonstrating the same aversion as a Senate candidate. But he’s polling respectably, and does quite well in head-to-head matchups with Democrat Brad Ellsworth. We will see tomorrow just how well relying on grassroots activists works in a competitive primary; in the end, it probably helps to run a television ad or two.

Marlin Stutzman has attracted some passionate support, and there’s no shame in a 34-year-old finishing a respectable second or third in a Senate primary. His future in state politics looks bright; if and when Mark Souder retires, the Howe, Indiana resident would seem to be a natural replacement, and one has to wonder how many more terms the 66-year-old Coats would want to serve.

Since he surprised the political world by jumping back into politics, Coats has attracted criticism: that he’s a retread, that he’s spent too much time out of the state in the past years, that his past lobbying work was too lucrative, and so on. We don’t quite know what tomorrow holds, but so far, Indiana Republicans don’t seem too concerned. As Coats said in an interview, the voters know him and his record, and that goes a long way in Hoosier country.

Down-ticket, there’s a very crowded primary on the GOP side in the 4th district, represented by the retiring Steve Buyer: 14 Republicans are competing; the two leading in the money chase are Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita and state senator Brandt Hershman.

In the 5th district, Dan Burton has several well-funded primary challengers, but I would be surprised if the 14-term incumbent was knocked off.

Finally, there is a crowded GOP primary in the 8th district, where Sacrifical Lamb Congressman Brad Ellsworth is leaving to lose compete in the Senate race. Dr. Larry Bucshon is the best-funded candidate.

UPDATE: Over at the Weekly Standard, John McCormick writes about the possibility of Hostettler, whose “foreign policy views are well outside the Republican mainstream,” sneaking through. To be honest, I just don’t know who’s going to win this primary; none of them have knocked over McCormick yet.