Todd Rokita announces plans to enter U.S. Senate race, pledges to ‘defeat the elite’

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Todd Rokita announcement on Aug. 9, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Rep. Todd Rokita has joined what’s quickly becoming a crowded field to challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly as Republicans try to gain a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Rokita made the announcement in Indianapolis Wednesday. It’s the first top in a planned nine-city tour, according to Rokita’s office.

Rokita, a 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.”

Rokita blasted Donnelly during his announcement, suggesting that Donnelly is there for Hoosiers except when it matters most.

“He is usually with us every time it doesn’t matter,” Rokita said. “When it matters, Joe Donnelly is one of the final votes for ObamaCare.”

Rokita said he wants to level the playing field and help Hoosiers. He pledged to fix the tax code and said he would “always defend” the Hoosier worker.

“Indiana needs a common-sense senator capable of getting results. Indiana needs a conservative senator,” Rokita said. “Indiana needs a senator who votes in the best interests of Hoosiers and not the Washington elite.”

Rokita said he wants to work with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to bring about change in Washington.

Rokita said he traveled 45,000 miles every year as secretary of state, visiting each of Indiana’s 92 counties. Other planned tour stops include Fort Wayne, Elkhart, Munster, Evansville, Jeffersonville, Kokomo, Lafayette and Terre Haute.

Rokita made his plans known Tuesday with the release of a campaign video released in which he pledged to “defeat the elite.” Rokita enters what is anticipated to become a bruising Republican primary in the eventual effort to unseat Donnelly.

Rep. Luke Messer will officially launch bid Saturday during his annual family BBQ in Morristown, after initially tweeting his announcement, and already engaging in a series of back-and-forth attacks between him and Rokita.

“I haven’t liked the tone at the beginning of this campaign,” Messer said in a recent interview with CBS4. “I’ll concede to that.”

State Rep. Mike Braun (R-Jasper) has also announced his candidacy, saying he wanted to give another choice to voters who are already tired of the campaign bickering.

“I am ready to go to Washington to deliver Donald Trump reinforcements as he takes on the DC swamp,” Braun said in a statement on his campaign website.