A crowded pool of Republican candidates for the 4th district congressional seat met in Lafayette Saturday to debate issues ranging from gun control to federal spending and online security. The debate comes more than a month ahead of the May 8th primary.
Seven candidates are vying for the GOP nomination for what was previously Congressman Todd Rokita’s seat before he announced his run for Senate.
Former State Rep. Steve Braun (R-Zionsville) and current Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) are the only two candidates who've served at the Indiana Statehouse. Braun says he’d call on his experience running the state’s Department of Workforce Development to reduce the rate of recidivism amid an opiate crisis.
“Look at the felon crowds, and we implemented programs with 15-16,000 felons coming out every year into society,” Braun says. “We grab them, we train them, and most importantly, we got them into jobs.”
Many issues toed conservative party lines, such as repealing the Affordable Care Act, refuting proposals to ban firearms and revamping the immigration system.
On internet privacy, there was some discord. James Nease of Frankfort says when it comes to data collection, the user takes responsibility for knowing the terms of service on a website such as Facebook.
And Jared Guy Thomas of West Lafayette attempted to advocate for both government non-intervention and rules governing the internet.
“I don’t think regulation is a cure-all,” Thomas says. “But when a situation arises where some of these companies break our trust, I do believe that they should be punished accordingly.”
Also in the running are West Lafayette businessman Kevin Grant, former Mike Pence aide Diego Morales and self-described “working man” candidate Tim Radice.