ELECTION 2018: U.S. Senate candidate stops in Goshen to learn about RV issues
February 01, 2018
GOSHEN — One of six Republicans who intend to run in the May 8 primary for the party’s U.S. Senate nomination lunched and listened to recreational vehicle executives Thursday, then toured a Keystone RV plant.
Luke Messer of Greensburg, who is the U.S. House representative in District 6, walked through a lamination plant with Keystone CEO Matt Zimmerman as he showed him how RV sidewalls are made.
“We are laser focused on beating Joe Donnelly,” Messer said on how he will differentiate himself in the field of GOP hopefuls. “The bottom line is we have to unite conservatives all across the state to bring a change to the U.S. Senate. “Frankly, I like Joe Donnelly personally but I think he votes out of step with Hoosiers. As we stayed focus on that case we are confident the primary result will work out.”
Donnelly is the incumbent South Bend Democrat who holds the Senate seat.
The GOP now, in theory, controls the Senate with its 51-seat majority but has been stymied several times in passing laws in Trump’s first year by Democrat Senators and a few Republican defectors. There are 47 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democrats, according to the Senate’s website.
Messer said the Indiana Senate election will likely be one of the more important mid-term races in the nation this year.
“This Indiana Senate seat is one of the biggest, highly contested races in the country,” he said.
One of the reasons he visited Goshen, according to Messer, was he wanted to learn about the RV industry, which dominates the local economy.
“Today this trip was really about learning about the RV industry,” Messer said. “This industry is not only important for Goshen and the surrounding communities, but for our entire state. This is one of the key economic engines for our state and we want to make sure we are able to represent this industry well.”
After the tour, Zimmerman said RV executives met with Messer to talk about issues that are important to the industry, especially the need to find more workers and house them.
“We talked to Luke today about some of the big issues not only our industry is facing, but specifically northern Indiana,” Zimmerman said. “We know there is a labor issue here, there is a housing issue here. We know there is an immigrant bill that they are trying to get done as well as some tax stuff. All of those issues are critical things, whether you sit on the left side or the right side.”
On DACA, the RV executives talked to Messer about having a “balanced approach,” according to Zimmerman.
“We understand both sides of it but certainly our area, and the amount of Hispanics we have in our area are critically important to our community and our workforce. But we also understand the need to protect our borders too. Just talking about instead of having this political, sophomoric type pound my chest type thing going on in Congress, how do we come together? And I think Luke is one of those individuals who want to do those types of things.”
As he has traveled the state, Messer said one theme is always the top issue.
“The number one thing across the state of Indiana is people want to see a growing economy and better paying jobs and they want the policies as well that make that happen,” Messer said.
The candidate has been a big backer of Trump’s policies and he said many Hoosiers are as well.
“I think folks are excited by the tax cuts that were passed at the end of the year, they are excited by President Trump’s agenda and they just want to see more get done,” he said.
One of the things the Trump team wants to accomplish is to build a wall along the border with Mexico, something Messer talked about.
“I think the president has put forth a serious framework that starts with the premise ‘no wall, no DACA,’” Messser said. “So I think the president’s proposal is a great starting place and we ought to be able to find a way to secure our southern border and to handle the DACA challenge as well.”