INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Republican candidates for Indiana’s open U.S. Senate seat, each of whom claims to be the true conservative, face each other Monday for their only statewide televised debate ahead of the May 3 primary and what could be their best chance to reach a broad audience of voters.
U.S. Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young will face off in an hour-long debate at public television station WFYI in Indianapolis beginning at 7 p.m. Fort Wayne viewers can watch live on WFWA-TV channel 39.1 and WISE MyTV channel 33.2, or listen live on WOWO Radio 1190 AM and 92.3 FM.
The race between Stutzman and Young has grown combative even though both have campaigned as stalwart conservatives with similar positions on many issues. Young has tried to paint his tea party-backed rival as an ideologue who values obstructionism over passing legislation. Stutzman has characterized Young as a pawn of the establishment at a time when Americans are increasingly frustrated with “a system that benefits a few people.”
Stutzman, who co-owns his family’s farm operations in northern Indiana, and Young, an attorney from Bloomington, were both first elected to Congress in 2010. They are seeking to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Coats. Former U.S. Rep. Baron Hill is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
Both Republicans are spending heavily on television advertising around the state — and so are outside groups backing their candidates.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been spending $1 million for television ads supporting Young. The conservative group Club for Growth is supporting Stutzman, who is a member of the Freedom Caucus of conservative Republican House members whose aversion to compromise led to former House Speaker John Boehner resigning last year.
Democrats hope Stutzman emerges from the primary to take on Hill. They view Stutzman as extremely conservative with an outspoken nature that could turn off general election voters much like GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who drew criticism for comments about abortion and rape and lost the 2012 Senate race to Democrat Joe Donnelly.
The televised debate is sponsored by the nonpartisan Indiana Debate Commission.
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