Indiana’s primary day is May 8th. There are a wide variety of Republicans running for the party’s nomination for offices from the U.S. Senate seat against incumbent Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) to its nine House of Representatives seats.
Not only are those federal legislative positions up for election, but also the State Senate, State House, and many various other state and local offices are being voted on as well, making it a very civic-minded year in the Hoosier state.
With the ascendance of former Indiana Governor Mike Pence to the Vice-Presidency, the candidates who are the frontrunners all generally seem to be linked to him and his past Governorship of the state.
Indeed, many candidates are openly emphasizing their affiliation with former Governor Pence in a state where he still commands strong approval, with a late 2017 Ball State University poll putting him at 50% approval to 37% disapproval.
Yet there seems to be strife among the Republicans and fellow ex-Pence administration officials running. With the primary just a few days away on May 8th, an already long hard-fought race is seeing last minute tactics ranging from a tsunami of PAC-funded attack ads and flyers to one Senate candidate even bringing cardboard cutouts of his opponents to amuse potential voters with.
With some of the races, such as the Senate primary between Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN), Congressman Luke Messer (R-IN), and State Representative Mike Braun, already having been noted for their particular viciousness, with even Republican Party officials criticizing the tone, it seems like the home stretch has seen some of it put into full throttle.
For example, in Indiana’s 4th Congressional District there is a hard fought race between two former Pence administration officials, Diego Morales and Steve Braun. Recently PAC flyers have flooded the district, with several engaging in vicious attacks on Diego, a U.S. Army veteran and legal immigrant who served as a Senior Advisor to Governor Mike Pence.
The flyers are clearly some of the worst of the worst we see in politics, engaging in everything from disrespectful mockery, calling Morales “Leggo Diego!” to the downright despicable, outright attacking Morales’ character and integrity.
I had the chance to chat with Morales personally several months ago, hearing about his story as one that shows a Republican Party that remains vibrant, growing, and optimistic. Morales immigrated to the United States, legally, from Guatemala in 1999 as a young man. Morales, now 39 years old, became an American citizen and served our country with distinction in the U.S. Army as an infantryman.
He also earned an MBA from Purdue University, has been a small business owner and college instructor, held various positions in government, and even rose to serve Governor Mike Pence as a Senior Advisor in his cabinet.
We have seen with the recent fiasco around Admiral Ronny Jackson, which both Adm. Jackson and President Trump have maintained as completely false allegations, and which the Secret Service is day by day showing the rumors as increasingly untrue, that the power of rumors and distortion to mar without evidence the character of persons is powerful.
While many Republicans and Democrats are used to our politics having decayed to a level where both sides unfortunately engage in the worst vitriol against each other, it seems that Republicans are throwing one another to the pits as well in a way that helps neither the party nor country.
I’ve been around politics for quite a while throughout the years and know the realities can easily sink into nastiness, almost as if it were like the law of gravity. However norms can and do exist that create a culture around which our level of discourse is raised for the benefit of all.
If candidates with strong and inspiring personal stories like Morales’, who came to this country and lived a compelling version of the American Dream, are attacked viciously like this then our country is heading toward a worrying place. Not only does it hurt the Republican Party at this particular time, but hurts our country and governing process as a whole.