After some fierce primary election battles in Indiana this week, the Republican Party staged an event today to show a unified front.
The party convened all candidates from the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Democrat Evan Bayh. They included the winner, former Senator Dan Coats, and four others, most of whom received support from Tea Party movement members.
Many party members had criticized Coats for not living in Indiana before running for office and his votes in the Senate during the 1990s. (Coats will face conservative Democrat Rep. Brad Ellsworth in November.)
Indiana Republican Party chairman Murray Clark says Thursday’s meeting was just one step to unify the party.
“This is about five strong, conservative Senate candidates standing together not just ideologically in their interest in returning a good Republican to the Senate but also in their support of the Dan Coats campaign effort,” he says.
Clark says the party also plans to cultivate unity in Congressional districts, after some tough and often close primary races among Republican candidates.
“We have many primary candidates and when that’s the case, of course, you have many that don’t prevail on Election Day,” he says. “We had 54 Republicans run in the nine congressional districts alone.”
One tight race was for the ninth Congressional district, which Todd Young of Bloominton won with only 35 percent of the vote.
Clark says the focus now is on uniting the part as it heads into the general election. And he says the party — and likely Gov. Mitch Daniels — will be working hard to nurture that unity to win state office elections as well.
“This is a real all-hands-on-deck year for the Republican Party,” Murray says. “And, indeed, the Governor is extremely committed to helping Republicans win back a majority in the Indiana House of Representatives.”
Right now, the Democrats have a slim majority in the Indiana House of Representatives.
Clark says the Indiana Republican Party is looking to make the upcoming election into a referendum on the Obama administration’s policies.