Veteran Senator’s Retirement To Likely Spark Competitive GOP Primary

REUTERS/Jason Reed

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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A competitive Republican Senate primary in 2016 is shaping up in Indiana, where veteran GOP Sen. Dan Coats announced Tuesday he won’t run for re-election.

Republicans expected to consider making a run for the seat include Eric Holcomb, Coats’ chief of staff, and members of the state’s GOP congressional delegation, including Reps. Marlin Stutzman, Jackie Walorski, Todd Young and Todd Rokita.

Rumors have circulated in D.C. that the GOP establishment is moving to support Holcomb. But while Coats on Tuesday praised his chief of staff — who has never held office before but is taking a leave of absence while he considers a run — the senator isn’t endorsing him yet.

“We don’t talk about recruiting in the press,” Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said when asked if the committee plans to get involved in the primary.

But TheDC has learned from another Republican source that the committee is not actively boosting Holcomb, and is instead waiting to see how the field forms.

On Tuesday, NRSC chairman Roger Wicker said of the race: “We have a strong Republican bench in Indiana and I am confident we will have another capable Republican joining us in the Senate in 2016 to continue Dan’s great work.”

Democrats, hoping to have a chance at reclaiming the seat, are encouraging former Sen. Evan Bayh to enter the race. But the Democrat has signaled he isn’t likely to run.

“Indiana’s Senate race is now one of the most competitive Senate races in the country, and Democrats are ready to put together a strong campaign just like we did in 2012,” Democratic Senate Campaign Committee chairman Jon Tester said. “We’re confident that we will find a great candidate who will put Indiana first and win this seat in 2016.”

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