INDIANAPOLIS — Former state Rep. Mike Braun, R-Jasper, is leapfrogging two sitting congressmen to become the first of the 2018 Republican U.S. Senate candidates to introduce himself to Hoosier voters through television and radio advertising.

In the commercials, set to air statewide beginning Tuesday, the southern Indiana auto parts magnate talks about his experience running a growing business, and the need for outsiders to stand up to career politicians and "the Washington swamp" that is "ruining America."

"I started a national company right here in my hometown. But Washington's inaction has cost our country trillions in debt and lost opportunity," Braun says in the ads that describe him as a "businessman, conservative and outsider."

"I'm tired of watching Congress do nothing," he says. "I'm running for United States Senate to get Washington moving again."

Braun is one of three GOP Senate candidates that federal records show had more than $1 million in the bank as of Sept. 30 — thanks in part to a $850,000 loan from Braun to his campaign account.

The others were U.S. Reps. Luke Messer, R-Shelbyville; and Munster native Todd Rokita, R-Brownsburg.

Braun's decision to go on the air almost exactly six months before the May 8 Republican primary suggests the closely watched contest for the right to challenge U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., could prove to be expensive for the candidates and their supporters.

Messer and Rokita so far mainly have stuck to the GOP county dinner circuit to promote their campaigns among Hoosier Republicans, while simultaneously seeking backing from deep-pocketed donors in Indiana and elsewhere.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said Braun's early ads are "proof that he's intent on buying himself a Senate seat."

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Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.