INDIANAPOLIS | When now-U.S. Rep. Todd Young, R-Bloomington, led Marines recruiting in the Chicago area during the late 1990s, he regularly visited Northwest Indiana high schools and colleges looking for a few good men (and women).
Over the next 10 months, Young again will crisscross Lake and Porter counties seeking to enlist supporters in Indiana's Republican U.S. Senate primary contest.
"I'll be spending a lot of time in the region," Young said. "I will be carrying our message of more jobs and higher wages, of enhanced safety and security for all Americans and responsible conservative leadership to all 92 counties, and working hard to earn the trust and support of every Hoosier."
The three-term southern Indiana congressman jumped Sunday into the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., joining U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Howe, and Eric Holcomb, a former Coats aide and past chairman of the Indiana Republican Party.
Young said he plans to focus his campaign on economic issues, specifically how best to raise the paychecks of Hoosier workers, as well as the nation's military needs, drawing on his experience as a Naval Academy graduate and six years of Marine Corps service.
"We have to remain engaged, certainly and selectively, throughout the world if we want to remain safe and secure," Young said.
He also plans to tackle burdensome federal regulations, believes Obamacare should be repealed and is open to significant changes in popular entitlement programs.
"I think we need to have everything on the table with respect to making Medicare and Social Security sustainable," Young said.
Young was a member of the House Budget Committee that produced a spending plan under former Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., featuring deep cuts to nearly all government programs. In addition, the Ryan budget would have turned Medicare into a voucher system, similar to the health exchange component of Obamacare.
The congressman said he stands by that budget, though he would advocate in the Senate for greater federal investment in infrastructure, perhaps through public-private partnerships. He said any decisions on road and bridge tolling should be left to states.
At least one other Republican is likely to enter the U.S. Senate primary race: state Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel.
Young, however, has the advantage of having defeated in 2010 the only declared Democratic candidate, former U.S. Rep. Baron Hill.