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May 6, 2014

TOM LoBIANCO: Negative ads shake up 2014 GOP primary battles

Behning, Waterman, Kubacki races draw thousands in spending


“There’s low campaigning, and then there’s just low campaigning,” Boyer said.

However, in the ad, which ran in the Times-Union of Warsaw, Kubacki blames Boyer for the escalation and says she was the one who dragged family into the fight.

“The vast majority of these hateful letters that have been running for weeks in the newspaper are actually submitted by various Boyer family members,” Kubacki writes. “Day after day, one hateful, critical letter after another.”

On the other side of the state, in southwest Indiana, the in-party battling has been escalating for well more than a year. Sen. John Waterman, R-Shelburn, is fending off a strong challenge from Washington, Indiana, Councilman Eric Bassler.

The tea party-aligned Americans for Prosperity recently went on the air against Waterman, accusing him of voting against “economic freedom” during his time in the Senate.

Behind the scenes, the race is proving the politics-as-strange-bedfellows axiom: It pits the leaders of the Indiana Senate and union leaders against a mix of business and tea party interests. Republican operative Cam Savage, one of the staffers who downloaded campaign material onto a Statehouse computer while working for former schools Superintendent Tony Bennett, is fighting Waterman alongside some of the same tea-partiers who helped oust Bennett in 2012.

The Behning, Waterman and Kubacki battles have drawn countless thousands of dollars in spending from both sides. The exact amounts are difficult to track in part because Indiana’s campaign finance laws do not require the groups to say immediately how much they’re spending.

As for one of the most civil primary battles thus far? House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner’s opponent has chosen to focus on concerns about drug abuse and agricultural technology instead of ethics questions about Turner’s efforts to protect his family’s business interests by lobbying against a proposed nursing home construction ban.

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