On the other hand, Stutzman has racked up support from a number of Tea Party groups, including the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and the Senate Conservatives Fund. Stutzman is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, the group that voted against then-House Speaker John Boehner before his resignation. That’s given him leeway to tout his status as an outsider, helping him win support among Tea Party groups. But Stutzman’s conservative support has generated more endorsements than cash. The Club for Growth spent $12,392 for Stutzman and the Senate Conservative Fund spent $82,816. Late last month, the Tea Party Express endorsed Stutzman. Its executive director, Taylor Budowich, said in a statement, “The Indiana Senate race is a clear example where the politicians and lobbyists in Washington have picked one candidate while the grassroots of Indiana have picked another candidate.” Stutzman hopes to translate his stance against the establishment into votes from Donald Trump and Ted Cruz supporters. “First thing I do is tell them that Mitch McConnell is with Todd Young,” he said. “Usually that does it.”
Both campaigns have also had their hiccups. Young was accused of not having the sufficient number of voter signatures to run for the U.S. Senate, but remained on the ballot after a tie vote by the Indiana Election Commission. And Stutzman has had to answer for a six-day trip to California worth $2,000, which was reportedly paid for by his Senate campaign. He’s reimbursed the campaign since.
Indiana leans Republican, but whoever wins on Tuesday is likely to run against former Representative Baron Hill in November, when Democrats hope to take back the majority. Young defeated Hill in a 2010 congressional race. Also looming over the Senate primary race is the memory of 2012, when Senator Richard Lugar lost in the primary against Richard Mourdock, who then went on to lose in the general to now-Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly.
The gap between Young and Stutzman echoes the way other down-ballot races have unfolded this year. In North Carolina, Greg Brannon, the anti-establishment candidate, lost to incumbent Richard Burr. And Representative John Shimkus delivered an upset in Illinois against Kyle McCarter, who was backed by the Club for Growth. In the Democratic Party, a similar situation has unfolded. Last week, in Pennsylvania, former congressman and outsider Joe Sestak lost to Katie McGinty, who was backed by national Democrats.
So why are outsider candidates not able to replicate the enthusiasm propelling some presidential candidates?
It could be that down-ballot elections receive far less media coverage, as Roll Call notes. But on the Republican front, it may also be evidence of a divided party, hoping to maintain its Senate majority, even as it turns to insurgent presidential candidates. Whatever the case, voters will head to the polls in Indiana on Tuesday to participate in a heated primary. And if Young wins, it could further cement the notion that in down ballot races, it is not the year of the outsider.