IN Focus: Braun takes on GOP rivals ahead of bitter Senate primary

INDIANAPOLIS - And then there were three.

In what's expected to be a bitter fight for the GOP nomination, three candidates have collected enough signatures to officially be on the ballot for the Republican primary in May.

Rep. Todd Rokita, Rep. Luke Messer, and former State Rep. Mike Braun are squaring off in what's been called "the GOP's nastiest primary" for the 2018 midterms.

And that tension was on full display last week at the Statehouse.

When Messer and Braun arrived to officially file for the race, they were each met at the Secretary of State's office by staffers from Rokita's campaign dressed in various costumes meant to taunt Rokita's opponents.

In the video above, Braun blasts Rokita, calling the stunt 'inappropriate'.

"That's a typical thing I think you  get out of somebody who will do anything or say anything to stay in office," said Braun. "He's desperate because he knows that I'm the one that's going to end up catching him and surpassing him, and it's another infantile kind of clown act."

Rokita also made headlines this past week, calling for stricter immigration laws in the wake of a Colts player's tragic death.

His campaign has dogged Messer for his moving his family to Virginia after being elected to Congress, and Rokita's campaign has also blasted Braun for his history of voting in Democratic primaries.

When pressed about his past primary votes and whether that could hurt him in the GOP primary, Braun insisted his votes in those primaries were only for local candidates.

"The only way in most of Southern Indiana that you can weigh in on elections of your local elected officials was to pull a ballot where those folks ran," said Braun. "I was never a Democrat."

Braun has been pulling closer to his rivals in fundraising, though much of that money has come in the form of a personal loan to his own campaign.

He's also collected more signatures than any other candidate in the race.

In the video below, Braun is also asked about his vote for the new statewide gas tax during his time in the state legislature, and his hopes for the Senate if elected.