|Rep. Todd Rokita|
Apparently, that wasn't enough of a warning for Todd Rokita.
This week, arguably the most clueless man in Indiana's Congressional delegation announced he was running for Indiana's U.S. Senate seat in 2018. He becomes the latest Republican in the race.
Now, Rokita has his fans. They tend to fall on the far right conservative side of the coin. It's been easy for Rokita to say and do just about anything he's wanted to do in the very conservative 4th Congressional District and continue to get away with it. After all, Rokita's 4th District predecessor used his muddy combat boots as a prop and once did a speech on the floor about smoking lettuce.
Rokita has trailblazed his own path to crazy in the 4th. He called Americans "piggish and un-American" for worrying about the health of the overall economy vs. allowing the country to default over the debt ceiling. Rokita tried to bust civil service unions by making civil servants such as postal workers at will employees.
As if that weren't enough, the conservative firebrand tried to change the laws regarding free and reduced school lunch. The plan would have potentially knocked 120 schools across Indiana that serve 58,000 kids from the program, according to the Indianapolis Star. Fourteen schools would have been in Indianapolis alone.
He's defended United Airlines and the actions of law enforcement in the awful case where the Louisville doctor was dragged down the aisle because he refused to give up his seat to a United flight crew.
“This is a bit of a two-way street. What happened on that United flight shouldn’t have escalated to where it was, but a grown man, assumedly sane, when approached by law enforcement on an aircraft should abide by the request being made,” Rokita said. United settled with Dr. David Dao.
Even his campaign announcement drew scrutiny. Indy Star columnist Matthew Tully penned a highly critical piece writing, "U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita is taking things to a new level this summer, peddling a package of baloney so oversized he must have bought it at Costco."
The Lafayette Journal & Courier's Dave Bangert appears to have caught Rokita in some sort of political hypocritical mess.
One of the better lines on the Statehouse steps – presumably no location was available as a backdrop in the 4th District, where calls for town halls have gone unanswered in 2017 – was his commitment to something called “No Budget, No Pay.”
The fundamentals are sound: Members of Congress should be held accountable if they can’t deliver a workable budget. Rokita touted Indiana’s balanced budget provisions and promised to fight for the same as a U.S. senator.
But Rokita conveniently forgot to mention what happened in October 2013, when No Budget meant No Government for a short time.
At the time, Rokita gloated about how the federal government shutdown was a stand against the Affordable Care Act. He said at the time, “We’re doing exactly what our constituents asked us to do,” by delaying the rollout of Obamacare. The longer the shutdown, the better his chances, he told me in a conversation from Washington, D.C. “I think we’re going to win.”Bangert added that the tactic didn't work, but that Rokita did get paid.
One of the better lines in @ToddRokitaIN Senate bid announcemnt was his No Budget/No Pay commitment. Funny, given his 2013 shutdown paycheck pic.twitter.com/ak8d8UITjw— Dave Bangert (@davebangert) August 10, 2017
I know I'm getting windy here, but there really isn't anything in Todd Rokita's record that shows that he's anything but a man who is as far from the model of an "Indiana Senator" as can be. Think about that tradition.
Richard Lugar was seen as a statesman and a trusted voice by both parties. Birch Bayh penned the 25th and 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He also is the father of Title IX. Vance Hartke was instrumental in improving access to college and improving transportation in our country while standing up to oppose the Vietnam War. Even Dan Coats, in his first go around in the Senate, supported gun control laws and voted for Ruth Bader Ginsburg's confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Joe Donnelly fits this tradition more than any of the Republicans running and certainly more than Rokita. In a Senate full of those on the right and those on the left, in true Indiana fashion, Donnelly has placed himself in the middle which draws ire from the liberal left, and it may be those folks that ultimately help elect their polar opposite if they don't vote for Donnelly in 2018.
It's so critical that Todd Rokita goes home to Brownsburg in 2018. I can't imagine him with a bigger bully pulpit and more power than he has today. Right now, he's the 4th District's issue, but Hoosier voters can avoid making him Indiana's problem...for six long years.