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Todd Young and Marlin Stutzman square off on ballot access

By Scott Tibbs, February 17 2016

Let me start off by saying this: I like both Todd Young and Marlin Stutzman. I wish I could vote for both.

With that said, the rhetoric coming from Todd Young's campaign for U.S. senate is getting ridiculous, calling Marlin Stutzman a "professional politician" and repeatedly linking him to Barack Obama. Some of Young's supporters are openly accusing Stutzman of siding with the Democrats in their challenge to Young's signatures.

Let's get that last one out of the way right now. Stutzman is in a primary and he has a chance to automatically win the nomination without needing to fight a bruising primary battle and deplete his war chest in the process. If I was running for U.S. Senate and I had the opportunity to take my one opponent out of the game and avoid the fight I would do it. So would Todd Young, and any smart politician would do that.

Personally, I think Young got enough signatures, and every valid signature needs to be counted. The county clerks already certified that he had enough signatures. But if further investigation were to reveal that Young does not have enough signatures, he does not deserve to be on the ballot. Period. That does not represent "Obama tactics." That is adhering to the rule of law. Everyone running statewide knows the requirements.

As far as Republicans "attacking" each other: That is what happens in a primary and everyone who gets into a race like this should expect to take some hits from the other side. Furthermore, Young has been attacking Stutzman every bit as hard as Stutzman has been attacking him, especially with the "Obama tactics" meme the Young campaign is spreading. Neither side has much room to complain about a "circular firing squad."

Some of Young's supporters are bringing up Richard Mourdock, which is a flawed comparison. Stutzman is not Mourdock, and this is not a case of a party that is divided because a challenger knocked off an incumbent who has been in office for 36 years in a primary. Mourdock may have won - and certainly would have done better - if not for "the comment" that has become infamous. Even then, the Democrat barely got 50% of the vote, with an exceptionally strong showing by the Libertarian candidate.

Plus, while Young has a huge advantage over Stutzman in fundraising, Stutzman has significantly more money than Baron Hill, who has a ton of baggage. Hill is not Donnelly. No matter who wins the primary, they will be favored to defeat Baron Hill in November - especially as voters statewide are reminded of Hill's famous "this is my meeting" meltdown in 2009, refusing to allow a student to film his speech for a school project.

Ultimately, we should let the process play out. I hope Young survives this challenge and I think Republicans will be better off with an issue-oriented primary between the two than no primary at all. Young's campaign needs to cool down the anti-Stutzman rhetoric before they alienate voters, especially voters who have not yet made a decision.