By Andi TenBarge
U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman threw his hat into the ring Saturday for the U.S. Senate seat to replace retiring Republican Dan Coats.
Stutzman made his announcement in the heart of Roanoke – a small town 16 miles south of Fort Wayne – surrounded by about 100 supporters. During his speech, the Republican sought to reinforce his strong conservative credentials.
“I think people are looking for proven leadership and a conservative that’s already stood up and said he will stick to his values and that’s what I’ve done,” he said.
Stutzman joins former Coats aid Eric Holcomb, who also served as Indiana Republican Party chairman, in the battle for the GOP nomination in the Senate race. U.S. Rep. Todd Young, R-9th District, is also considering a run.
Stutzman said he’s the true conservative in the race.
“Actions speak louder than words, folks,” he said. “The letter after your name on the ballot doesn’t matter if your voting record doesn’t match up to it.”
Stutzman previously served as both a state representative and state senator. He now represents Indiana’s 3rd congressional district, which he won in a special election after then U.S. Rep. Mark Souder’s resigned the seat in June 2010.
“We’ve fixed problems here at home and we can fix problems in our nation’s capitol,” Stutzman said.
Democrats accused Stutzman of voting against social service programs that would have helped Hoosiers.
“Indiana needs more commonsense leadership in the U.S. Senate,” said Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody. “And as the Democratic field takes shape, Hoosier Democrats will be talking about what they will do for Hoosier families – not to them.”
Stutzman previously ran for the Senate seat in 2010 for the Senate to replace retiring incumbent Sen. Evan Bayh, but lost the GOP nomination to Coats. Stutzman said he had strong support in that race from Central Indiana but needs to gain in the southwest and northwest regions of the state.
“A statewide run is very hard,” Stutzman said. “This is not an easy venture at all. Our strategy is to be all over the state again and do what we have to do again.”
Andi TenBarge is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.