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Messer Launches First TV Ad

Indiana Republican congressional candidate Luke Messer unveiled his first campaign ad on Monday.

The 30-second spot calls the former state representative a proven conservative and promises to continue in the tradition of Governor Mitch Daniels and incumbent Congressman Mike Pence, who is stepping down to run for governor this year. Speaking to a crowd of voters, Messer promises to cut spending, balance the budget, put an end to the bailouts and repeal President Obama’s healthcare law.

Check it out:

In the May 8 primary, Messer is running in a crowded 8-person race for the GOP nomination. Thus far, Messer’s candidacy has been endorsed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Right to Life PAC.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Messer Makes Congressional Bid Official

Former Indiana state Rep. Luke Messer, R-Shelbyville, announced Tuesday he is running for Congress in the newly redrawn congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-In., who is running for governor next year.

With Pence vacating his post, the 42-year-old education lobbyist said he will seek the Republican nomination in 2012. In his announcement, Messer courts Pence supporters and highlights his conservative credentials on abortion and gun rights.

“Mike Pence is a great friend, and I believe he will make a great governor,” Messer said in a news release. “Mike will be a tough act to follow in Congress, but we will work hard over the next year to earn the opportunity. Like Mike, I will stand up for the U.S. Constitution, conservative limited government principles and a return to fiscal sanity in our federal government.”

Earlier this year, the Indiana state legislature redrew congressional boundaries that put Messer in the 6th District. Two years ago, he came within 2 points of defeating 28-year incumbent Congressman Dan Burton in a seven-way GOP primary for Indiana’s 5th Congressional District.

Putting his 100% rating from Indiana Right to Life and his  “A” rating from the National Rifle Association at the forefront, Messer is setup to be the likely Pence successor.

“Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll travel the district meeting old friends and new, working to earn this opportunity to serve,” he said. “We will build upon our grassroots team and work to earn the support of voters, activists, elected officials, and party leaders. Together, we can continue the legacy of strong, conservative leadership for the 6th Congressional District and Hoosiers all across our state.”

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Post Primary: Indiana GOP Looking for Gains in November

Now, that the Indiana primary races are over, parties and candidates are starting to focus their attention on November’s general election.

A majority of politically experienced Republicans were winners in races where they faced those who were connected to or had support from the Tea Party movement. Now, Republicans are looking to gain seats in Congress as well as the Indiana State House.

Ed Feigenbaum, the editor of Indiana Legislative Insight, says the party, including Governor Mitch Daniels, will likely focus on districts bordering the Ohio River.

“They’re really going after Senate and House races, several of them targeted specifically by the Governor,” he says, “and they may put together an integrated marketing approach to tell Hoosiers that the Governor needs more people on his team in the legislature.”

One of those races is for state house district 70, which includes parts of Harrison and Floyd counties. It pits Republican Rhonda Rhoads against House Democratic Whip Paul Robertson.

But many of the winners in Republican elections prevailed with relatively small percentages of voter support. For example, U.S. Rep. Dan Burton survived challenges within the Republican primary by only 2 percentage points over his closest challenger. Even Todd Young of Bloomington got only 35 percent of the vote to be the Republican Congressional candidate in the ninth district.

Feigenbaum says these kinds of numbers played out across the state.

“In virtually every district, there were anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of the Republicans voting against the ultimate Republican nominee, whoever that might have been,” he says.

Feigenbaum also says it’s not clear how the Tea Party movement will will play out in the general election.

“Some of the Tea Party sympathizers, for example, may not have been happy that they were ultimately unsuccessful in all of the Congressional primaries as well as the state legislative races,” he says. “And some of those people may chose to stay home in November.”

Feigenbaum says this poses a challenge to the Republican Party to unify its ranks and capture a large part of the independent vote to win in the general election.