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All Eyes on Open Ind. Senate Seat

Image: All Eyes on Open Ind. Senate Seat
Indiana Republican candidates for U.S. Senate Marlin Stutzman, left, and Todd Young meet before a debate in Indianapolis, Monday, April 18, 2016. (Michael Conroy/AP)

Monday, 02 May 2016 08:08 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Aside from the high profile Trump-Cruz Indiana primary May 3, Hoosier Republicans will be deciding whether establishment Rep. Todd Young will win over tea party Rep. Marlin Stutzman for nomination to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Dan Coats.

An Indiana University/Purdue Poll showed Young with 42 percent among likely primary voters, with Stutzman at 34 percent.

So far in 2016, this has been the unusual paradox of the Republican primary season. While Trump has scored large and unexpected victories, fellow “outsiders” and “anti-politicians” have been universally unsuccessful in dislodging “establishment” members of Congress in Republican nomination battles.

Spirited challenges were launched in GOP primaries against House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, 10-term Rep. John Shimkus, and House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster. In each contest, the incumbent emerged on top.

“Here in Indiana, there are distinctions rather than differences to explain why Republicans will probably go for Trump and Young together,” Ed Feigenbaum, editor of the Indiana Legislative Insight newsletter, told me. “Many Republican voters see Trump as a ‘man of action’ who will get things done in Washington. They also see Young as a ‘man of action.’”

A U.S. Naval Academy graduate and nephew-in-law of former Vice President Dan Quayle, three-term Rep. Young serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, was a close ally of former House Speaker John Boehner and voted to lift the debt ceiling.

Stutzman, a farmer and also a three-term House member, lost to Coats in the five-way U.S. Senate primary in 2010. That same year, when scandal brought down an incumbent congressman, Stutzman bounced back and became as his replacement on the ballot. He voted against raising the debt ceiling in August 2011 and the Farm Bill in 2012 after attempting to put the funding for food stamps in a separate bill.

Coupled with his opposition to Boehner’s re-election as speaker last year, Stutzman’s record on these particular issues has made him a favorite of the tea party.

Beyond such issues as the debt ceiling and Boehner, there is relatively little difference between the voting records of Stutzman and Young. The American Conservative Union gives Stutzman a 98.4 percent grade on the conservative scale and Young is rated 84 percent. Heritage Action rates Stutzman at 88 percent and Young 54 percent.

“Their differences are primarily stylistic,” said Feigenbaum, “and it’s unfair to say Todd Young is not conservative and Marlin Stutzman is. And remember, the “tea party” has some other priorities in Indiana.”

He noted that there are spirited primaries in both the districts that the two congressmen are relinquishing to run for the Senate “and in both, there is at least one clear favorite for the tea party to back.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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Hoosier Republicans will be deciding whether establishment Rep. Todd Young will win over tea party Rep. Marlin Stutzman for nomination to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Dan Coats.
coats, stutzman, young, boehner
Monday, 02 May 2016 08:08 AM
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