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U.S. Senate hopeful Rokita earns top rating from conservative interest group, Messer a close second
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U.S. Senate hopeful Rokita earns top rating from conservative interest group, Messer a close second

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INDIANAPOLIS — New rankings issued by the American Conservative Union Foundation show U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Brownsburg, edging U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, R-Greensburg, for the most conservative voting record among Hoosier members of Congress.

Rokita's votes in 2017 matched the position of the conservative interest group 100 percent of the time, while Messer voted in line with the organization on 24 of 25 tracked votes, or 96 percent.

The sole divergence between the two congressmen, who are vying for Indiana's GOP U.S. Senate nomination, came on a Sept. 13, 2017, vote on whether to increase funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a public-private program established under Republican President Ronald Reagan that seeks to improve the competitiveness of small- and medium-sized manufacturers.

Rokita, a Munster native, voted in accordance with the conservative union and opposed the funding increase, even though Indiana's Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center is based in his congressional district at Purdue University in West Lafayette.

Messer supported the funding boost, as did a majority of members in the Republican-controlled U.S. House.

The congressmen otherwise voted identically on measures tracked by the conservative group, including Obamacare repeal, defunding Planned Parenthood, permitting increased methane emissions, limiting class action lawsuits, eliminating Amtrak subsidies, scrapping federal prevailing wage requirements and increasing the retirement age to qualify for Social Security benefits.

Businessman Mike Braun, the third Republican U.S. Senate candidate, was not rated since he's not serving in Congress.

However, Braun was a member of the Republican-controlled Indiana House in 2016 when the American Conservative Union Foundation deemed it the most conservative legislative body in the 50 states.

The conservative group's ratings for the other Hoosier representatives were: U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, 4 percent; U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Elkhart, 93 percent; U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, 93 percent; U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Carmel, 78 percent; U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indianapolis, 8 percent; U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-Evansville, 74 percent; and U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-Jeffersonville, 88 percent.

On a separate set of Senate votes, U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., matched the conservative group's position 80 percent of the time, while U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., never once did.

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