INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Republican voters chose Rep. Todd Young as their U.S. Senate nominee on Tuesday, opting for his pragmatism over a tea party-backed congressman who boasted of his obstructionist stance in Washington.
Young, 43, will now face Baron Hill in November’s general election, the same Democrat he ousted from Congress in 2010 when he rode a tea party wave to Washington.
The Indiana race could have national implications as Democrats seek a net gain of four Senate seats to retake the majority from Republicans.
The GOP primary to succeed retiring U.S. Senator Dan Coats featured increasingly biting exchanges between Young and Rep. Marlin Stutzman, despite both campaigning as stalwart conservatives with similar policy platforms.
Young’s campaign nearly foundered at the start when Democrats and Stutzman complained that he had failed to collect enough voter signatures from one congressional district to qualify for the ballot. An Associated Press count found Young three signatures short. But the state election board deadlocked 4-4 along partisan lines, which allowed Young to stay on the ballot.
Young presented himself as a pragmatic former U.S. Marine who is more interested in getting things done than lobbing verbal bombs. Stutzman portrayed himself as an outsider and small-town farmer. He also played up his membership in the House Freedom Caucus, a Republican faction that wanted to confront Democrats and made the GOP-controlled House so unruly that former House Speaker John Boehner resigned.
Both crisscrossed the state making appearances at GOP events and diners, but most of the campaign was fought over the airwaves through negative ads. The nonstop TV blitz was dominated by Young, whose ads accused Stutzman of being a career politician who put his own financial interests first. A smaller number of Stutzman-backed ads with a science fiction theme portrayed Young as a robot politician who votes the way party leaders tell him.
Young had a nearly 2-to-1 edge in fundraising while racking up endorsements from groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He also received financial backing from a group with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Young served as a Marine intelligence officer. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago and is married to the niece of former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle.