GOP not wise taking county for granted

The County Line

You’ve got to wonder about the reasoning used by some Republican candidates for major political office when they decline to appear at a function in Hamilton County. The county produces their party’s greatest election pluralities of any county in Indiana.

But, two leading candidates for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate have passed up an opportunity to speak at the annual Sept. 21 Carmel GOP Pork Roast.

Many of the party’s activists attend the function, folks who will have something to say about how Hamilton County goes in next year’s primary and general elections. It’s not the first time major candidates have missed events in the county. Top Republicans were scarce at local July 4 parades this year. But, Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly was there. There are now six candidates in the race for the Republican senatorial nomination. The winner in the May primary will challenge the incumbent Sen. Donnelly. If it’s a close race, Hamilton County can play a big role in that contest.

Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, both current congressmen, are seen as leading a large field of GOP candidates, but have both declined the Sept. 21 event.

Other candidates are Terry Henderson, a Hamilton County businessman; Mark Hurt, a Kokomo attorney; Mike Braun, a state representative from Jasper; and Andrew Takami, director of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute at New Albany.

Meanwhile, Donnelly has mounted an effective statewide public relations campaign, appearing at numerous functions including a few in Hamilton County. He will undoubtedly return to the county multiple times as election year nears.

In the 2016 senate race between Todd Young (R) and Evan Bayh (D), Young won the county by 37,002 votes. He was easily elected statewide, but in a close race as next year could be, the Hamilton County GOP margin could prove crucial.

All this makes one wonder why Republican candidates seem to take the county for granted while the Democrat is poised to chip away at his opposition’s anticipated margin.

Donnelly is on the right track. So, one would think the GOP candidates would want to be in the county establishing name identity now and ultimately increase their plurality next year in friendly territory. Passing up opportunities in Hamilton County such as the county fair, fish fries, the pork roast and other upcoming fall events could prove to be a big mistake. Next year, Donnelly and the Democrats will surely spend a lot of time here. Will the Republicans be here?