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Kendalville/KPC News: Messer wants to reform Senate, support president

AVILLA — U.S. Rep. Luke Messer thinks it’s time for Indiana to elect a senator who better represents conservative Hoosier values, someone who will support the president and work to unclog the gears of the U.S. Senate.

On Saturday, he asked a small group of Noble County Republicans to support him as he vies for the GOP’s nomination for Senate this spring.

Messer, who currently represents southeast Indiana’s 6th Congressional District, hosted an intimate meet-and-greet event with about a dozen local Republicans at St. James Restaurant.

While grabbing a quick bite for lunch with his 13-year-old daughter who was along for his northern Indiana campaign swing this weekend, Messer chatted with residents about his plans for bouncing current Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly out of office then pushing for reforms to make Congress run a little smoother.

Messer is one of three Republicans vying for the party’s Senate nomination, though he spent little time dwelling on other conservatives in the race — not mentioning opponents U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita or businessman Mike Braun once during his visit — and instead said he wants Republicans to focus instead on getting Donnelly out of office.

“Joe Donnelly is not a leader. He’s a follower. And why would you pick a follower to be your leader?” Messer asked. “The problem is not what Joe Donnelly says, it’s what he does. He votes out of step with the values we have in this state.”

Messer’s campaign is focusing on three main goals: Ending the use of the filibuster in the Senate, speeding up the process for presidential appointments and imposing term limits for lawmakers.

The modern filibuster rules requiring a 60-vote majority to overcome went into effect in 1975, and although Messer said once those rules perhaps led to Senators finding bipartisan solutions, now the filibuster has simple become a tool of obstruction.

“Now it’s become a tool of partisan gamesmanship. It puts the minority party in charge,” Messer said.

He also wants to see rules that would speed up the confirmation process for presidential appointees, bemoaning slowdown tactics being used by Democrats to gum up President Donald Trump’s judicial candidates and other appointments.

Making those reforms would allows Republicans in power now to advance more of their agenda, but likewise the less stringent rules could be used by Democrats if they were able to regain power in Congress. Messer acknowledged that’s a possibility, but said right now the Senate isn’t working for any Americans.

“The legislative process in Washington has been a disaster in recent decades and it’s failing the American people. And more and more I talk to Hoosiers that feel like the process is just broken, nothing seems to work,” Messer said. “The minority party constantly hangs up the agenda of the majority party and makes it impossible for them to succeed.”

Republicans on hand asked Messer his thoughts on issues including Congress’ use of continuing resolutions to fund the government instead of a long-term budget, his thoughts on an increasing national debt, about ongoing efforts to “drain the swamp,” and about immigration and the future of the U.S. economy.

Messer told attendees he’s a believer in the president’s policy agenda and wants to join the Senate in order to help achieve Republican goals. He said he thinks Americans elected Trump because people have questions about whether they will get the economic opportunities they desire and because there is a sense that legislative institutions aren’t working so a shakeup in Washington was needed.

The Hoosiers he talks to care more about the substance of the president’s policies than the substance of his Twitter postings, Messer said.

“My thought is our country is in a much better position to handle these challenges,” he said. “(Trump) is a very encouraging leader who pushes for success. I’m working very hard to be supportive of the Trump administration. I want to work with them.”

Messer summed up his visit with a personal anecdote about playing middle school football and wanting to quit after his first day of practice as he lagged far behind his peers. His mother, a single parent who raised him, told him she wasn’t going to let him quit and that he had to stick with it. He became the most-improved player on the team and later went on to be a successful player at the high school and collegiate levels.

He plans to bring that learned tenacity to the Senate, if elected.

“Quiters never win. Winners never quit,” Messer said. “If you work hard, stay focused, anything is possible.”