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McDaniel: 5th District campaign will be costly - The Herald Bulletin

Feb 4, 2020

PENDLETON — The former chairman of the Indiana Republican Party believes the campaign for the vacant 5th District seat in Indiana will be one of the most expensive in the country.

Mike McDaniel, who served as chairman of the state party from 1995 through 2002, was in Pendleton on Friday for a fundraiser for Mike Phipps, who is seeking election to a second term as Madison County commissioner from the 2nd (Middle) District.

McDaniel has endorsed State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, who is seeking the nomination against 11 other expected candidates in the May primary to replace incumbent Republican Susan Brooks in the U.S. congressional race.

Brooks announced last year she would not be seeking reelection.

McDaniel noted that Mitchell has been elected twice statewide and carried every county included in the 5th Congressional District except for Marion County.

“She’s a very capable person,” he said.

Kyle Hupfer, current chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, said Monday that with every candidate who enters the race it makes it easier for someone to win with 10% or 20% of the vote.

“Fundraising will be a big part of the campaign,” he said. “None of the candidates are well known.”

Hupfer said candidates like Chuck Dietzen and Beth Henderson are self-funded.

He said that Steve Braun, who earlier suspended his congressional campaign, could still be looking at the race.

“It will depend on who will put their own money in the race,” Hupfer said.

Hupfer said there are a number of viable candidates in the primary contest on both sides of the ballot.

“This is going to be a fight not only in the primary but in the fall,” McDaniel said. “Christina Hale, on the other side, is raising money. Democrats had a little success in Hamilton County in the last election, so their spirits are high going into this with Hale.”

Hale is one of four Democrats seeking the party’s nomination in the 5th District including Dee Thornton, Jennifer Christie and Andy Jacobs.

He said he expects a competitive race in the fall if Hale and Mitchell win their parties’ nominations.

“You’re going to see both congressional committees pour a lot of money into the race,” McDaniel said. “This will be one of the most expensive in the country. By the time this is over, people are going to be tired of seeing the television commercials.”

Hupfer disagreed with McDaniel that the 5th Congressional District race in the fall will be among the top in the nation when it comes to spending.

“There are several House races around the country where multi-millions of dollars will be spent,” he said. “It is a race where a lot of money will be spent.”

McDaniel said some of the candidates seeking the GOP nomination are further to the far right than Mitchell.

“Kelly is fiscally conservative and she has been a great state treasurer,” he said. “She may be a little bit moderate. We have people who are far right to Mitchell.”

McDaniel said as a former state party chairman he hates to see Republicans spending a lot of money beating up on each other.

“People believe if you’re not on television you don’t have a campaign,” he said. “I still think that there should be a presence in newspapers. The people that are really paying attention and trying to find out what’s going on are reading newspapers.

“With fewer people voting in the primary election they are the ones reading newspapers,” McDaniel said. “Those are the people paying attention.”

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