Picture Mike Delph on the high dive, toes curled around the edge of the diving board, bouncing gently, and looking down into the deep, deep waters far below. That’s where he stands on diving into the 2016 U.S. Senate race.
If you've ever been on an Olympic size high dive, you'll remember that first time. There's a lot of trepidation, but there's an abundance of excitement, too. Some back away, but what exhilaration you feel when you jump!
I don't expect state Sen. Delph, R-Carmel, to back away from the edge of the diving board, but if it does, it will be because of a family vote.
Delph is planning to visit Northwest Indiana the weekend of Aug. 2, at the invitation of Pastor Ron Johnson of Living Stones Church in Crown Point.
You might remember Johnson as having political aspirations in the past. Or you might remember him standing right behind Gov. Mike Pence when the governor signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That photo was quite popular on social media at the time.
Johnson is founder and head of the Indiana Pastors' Alliance.
"They've invited me up there because of my strong stance on religious liberty and my strong support of family values," Delph told me Thursday.
Delph's support of family values is real, not just a talking point.
When Delph was in Washington, D.C., to line up support for his potential Senate bid, he said, one of his daughters called every night and said, "Daddy, I miss you, I miss you."
That's got to tug at anyone's heartstrings.
The campaign trail is rugged, with no guarantee of a reward at the end. In fact, winning the Senate race would mean bouncing back and forth between Washington, D.C., and Indiana. That plane fare would be costly, except that Delph said he would drive his minivan with his wife and younger daughters — one is already in college — so his family could be with him.
"You have the tension between the service and the sacrifice," Delph said.
He wants to run; that's obvious. Republican Eric Holcomb, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, is already a declared candidate, eager to ascend to the Senate. U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman is also a declared candidate. U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, a Munster native, opted not to run for the Senate. U.S. Rep. Todd Young, R-Bloomington, hasn't announced yet but is widely expected to run.
Delph's reason for not declaring his candidacy, beyond his family's veto power, is that he has more freedom to line up financial support as an undeclared candidate.
"This new era of super PACs (political action committees) makes traditional campaign financing thinking ... it turns them on their heads," Delph said. He's right. Declared candidates can't coordinate efforts with the super PACs. But undeclared candidates can start their own PAC or line up support right up until the moment they announce they're running for office.
So how long will Delph remain poised on that diving board? He promises a decision by the end of September. The later it gets, the colder that water is going to become.