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And Then There Were Six: Rokita Joins GOP Senate Race

Delph endorsement of four-term congressman leaves Hill as last major question mark

Congressman Todd Rokita is kicking off his U.S. Senate campaign with a two-day announcement tour through nine cities.

Rokita's the sixth Republican seeking the nomination against Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly. In an Indianapolis rally, he accused Donnelly of being there for Hoosiers "every time it doesn't matter." He criticizes Donnelly for supporting President Obama's health care law and the Iran nuclear deal. 

Rokita has been emphasizing his support of President Trump in the runup to the announcement, and told supporters Trump "needs more partners in the Senate."

Rokita is in his fourth term in Congress and was secretary of state before that, but he's positioning himself as an outsider, unveiling a campaign slogan of "Defeat the Elite."  Rokita says the Republican establishment opposed him in his initial run for secretary of state and opposes him now. In a phrase borrowed from Trump, Rokita denounced what he calls a "rigged system" of Washington insiders looking out for themselves. He pledged to introduce bills including term limits and restrictions on former officeholders' ability to lobby.

The congressman is also vowing to take another stab at repealing and replacing the federal health care law. Rokita supported House Republicans' health care bill, and has said Senate Republicans should have just passed it instead of trying and failing to craft their own.

There's been speculation that Carmel State Senator Mike Delph would join the Senate race, but he introduced Rokita at his kickoff rally. Attorney General Curtis Hill has also been rumored to be looking at the race -- he's declining comment. 

Congressman Luke Messer has announced his candidacy and plans a formal kickoff Saturday in Morristown. Also running are Jasper State Representative Mike Braun, former Dan Coats aide Mark Hurt, Hamilton County business owner Terry Henderson, and Purdue administrator Andrew Takami.

Donnelly campaign manager Peter Hanscom issued a statement declaring the race "will come down to whomever has a strong connection to Indiana" -- and noting an April interview in which Rokita described Donnelly as working the state hard to maintain that connection.

Congressman Todd Rokita (R-4th) (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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