2 Republicans challenge incumbent congressman

Two newcomers to the national political scene are challenging Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Luke Messer for the GOP nomination for U.S. House District 6.

The two GOP challengers on the ballot are Charles (Chuck) Johnson Jr., Madison, and Jeff Smith, Liberty.

Messer has held the District 6 seat since being elected in 2012, a district that encompasses Delaware County to the north, all the way south to Jefferson and Switzerland counties along the Ohio River.

The district includes 19 counties in east-central and southeastern Indiana, also including Bartholomew, Jennings, Decatur, Ohio, Ripley, Dearborn, Franklin, Union, Fayette, Rush, Shelby, Hancock, Henry, Wayne, Randolph and part of Scott.

All three candidates said if elected they would support repealing the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance reform put in place by the Obama administration to improve access to affordable health care.

Messer said he has voted repeatedly to repeal the legislation, describing it as a broken law that has caused premiums to skyrocket, Hoosiers to lose their doctors, and businesses to reduce their payrolls. He said the Affordable Care Act has caused businesses to shed employees because they can’t afford the act’s taxes and mandates.

Describing the Affordable Care Act as federal overreach, Johnson said the act is an attack on personal freedom. Johnson said he would fight to stop all federal government overreach.

Smith said the Affordable Care Act should be repealed because it creates dependency on government, a new set of entitlements and a new level of federal bureaucracy. “Lest we not forget this was the largest tax increase in the history of this great republic,” Smith said.

The candidates also commented on congressional gridlock and animosity that has brought partisan politics out as a political issue.

Messer, who is the only one of the three who has experience as a congressman, said leaders in politics are stopping at the point of disagreement.

“Instead, we should find areas of agreement and work from there,” Messer said.

Messer said he has fostered bipartisan relationships, and authored and passed several bills with bipartisan support. He pledged to continue to do that.

“I will make the first move to step over the line of animosity,” Johnson said. “Sometimes evil people win and you have to go to them. If that’s what it takes to gain something for the working men and women of Indiana, with pride I’ll do it.”

Smith said partisan politics can be solved if elected leaders put aside their egos, humble themselves and swallow their pride.

“They also need to dissolve any and all connections with special-interest groups and work together for the citizens who elected them to do so,” he said.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.