Rokita reverses course on skipping TV debate for GOP Senate candidates

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U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita has reversed course on his decision to skip the April 30 televised statewide debate for GOP candidates running for U.S. Senate.

Fellow candidates U.S. Rep. Luke Messer and former state Rep. Mike Braun had agreed to participate in the debate organized by the nonpartisan Indiana Debate Commission. But Rokita declined.

According to the commission, Rokita’s campaign manager Bryan Reed said the congressman had scheduling conflicts and that he would only participate in primary debates “organized and moderated by conservative Republicans.”

However, Rokita’s campaign on Tuesday announced that he would participate in the debate, to be televised on public stations throughout the state. The moderator will be Indiana politics blogger, radio host and attorney Abdul Hakim-Shabazz.

In the announcement, Rokita’s camp said the candidate wanted to participate in order to directly challenge any misleading statements from the other candidates.

"Todd Rokita believes Hoosier conservatives deserve to know the truth, so he will be participating in the liberal Indiana Debate Commission debate,” spokesperson Nathan Brand said in the media release.

The campaign also claimed Hakim-Shabazz was “compromised,” pointing to statements made by the commentator that it represented as partisan or false.

Braun, Messer and Rokita will face off in the primary on May 8 to determine who will take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly in November.

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