IN Focus: Senate rivals launch campaigns ahead of vicious primary fight

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Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) has officially launched his campaign for U.S. Senate, as he seeks to replace Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), our state's senior senator who was elected to the upper chamber in 2012.

But Messer could be facing a bruising primary against fellow congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN), who announced his candidacy Wednesday after a series of back-and-forth attacks that have drawn scrutiny in recent weeks.

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"I haven't liked the tone at the beginning of this campaign," said Messer in an interview last week. "I'll concede that."

Rokita made his announcement in Indianapolis Wednesday, the first stop in nine-city tour.

The former Indiana secretary of state positioned himself as a candidate for the people who was snubbed by the “Washington elite” at the beginning of his political career.

“Some go to Washington and get caught up in the trappings of the town,” Rokita said. “They become Washington. And when they come back to Indiana, it’s here where they get a hotel room. If they lose an election, that’s OK, because they’ll stay there and profit from the system.”

There are now six candidates in the field, including State Rep. Mike Braun (R-Jasper) who launched his candidacy saying he was tired of the tone between Messer and Rokita.

Indiana attorney general Curtis Hill has also been mentioned as a possible candidate, and has still not ruled out a run for U.S. Senate.

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