Hurt in Favor of executive orders; Senate candidate in town Thursday

- Written by Brian Francisco | The Journal Gazette Feb 3rd, 2017

U.S. Senate candidate Mark Hurt was asked Thursday whether President Donald Trump has issued any executive orders during the first two weeks of his presidency that he disagrees with.

"I've not seen any," Hurt told local media during his campaign stop at Fort Wayne's Famous Coney Island.

He said he has "no problem" with Trump's order for a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by residents of seven Muslim-majority nations.

"I think with President Trump, you respect the leader of the ship, and then I think you give some patience, and we want to wait and see the outcomes from some of those policies as we mount more long-term policies," Hurt said.

The Kokomo attorney this week became the first Republican to announce his candidacy for the seat occupied by Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-lnd. Donnelly stands for re-election in 2018.

Hurt said he does disagree with Donnelly's positions, specifically his support of the Iranian nuclear agreement in 2015 and, when Donnelly was in the House, his vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act in 2009.

"I don't believe Sen. Donnelly is representing the state well on the votes," Hurt said.

Donnelly announced Thursday he will oppose confirming Trump's nominee for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions. Donnelly voted Wednesday against confirming Trump's pick for secretary of state,

Rex Tillerson, and he has said he will vote against Betsy DeVos for education secretary and Georgia Rep. Tom Price for health and human services secretary.

Hurt said he would vote for all four if he were asenator .

"I think you need to give respect to the president" on his Cabinet picks, Hurt said.

Asked for a response to Hurt's campaign, Donnelly campaign manager Peter Hanscom said in an

emailthat Donnelly "works hard to serve Hoosiers and nothing is going to change that. He looks forward to a spirited contest, regardless of whom the national Republican Party picks to challenge him."

Reps. Luke Messer, R-6th, and Todd Rokita, R-4th, are reportedly considering also running for Donnelly's seat. Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th, said this week she intends to remain in the House.

Hurt said he will stay in the GOP primary election race even if Messer or Rokita - who each began this year with more than $1 million in campaign cash - seeks the Republican nomination.

"I would be in it to win it, yes, the long haul. ... It wouldn't surprise me if there's five to 10 people that enter the race," Hurt said.

Donnelly is considered among the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in next year's election. Trump won Indiana by 19 percentage points in last year's election against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Hurt announced his candidacy Wednesday in Indianapolis. He spoke Thursday at Coney Island to 18 friends and family members, including his wife, Nancy, who is from Grabill.

Hurt grew up in Fairmount and graduated from Taylor University in Upland. He told The Journal Gazette that his mother, Bettie, who attended Thursday's campaign stop, had ridden a school bus with fellow Fairmount-area resident James Dean, who would become a celebrated actor and pop-culture icon.

Hurt was on the staff of then-Sen. Dan Coats, R-lnd., in the 1990s. He also worked for former Michigan Gov. John Engler and Fred Grandy, a former congressman from Iowa who played the character "Gopher" on the TV show "The Love Boat" in 1970s and 1980s.

Hurt has operated a law practice in Kokomo for 18 years and is a part-time prosecutor in Howard County.

He said he supports repealing the Affordab le Care Act and would replace it with "something that's more private sector" and that would feature medical savings accounts and insurance riders, or additional provisions, for people wanting specialized coverage.

He did say he favors retaining elements of the health care law, including mandatory coverage for pre­ existing medical conditions, keeping children younger than 26 on their parents' insurance policies and preventing insurance companies from capping lifetime coverage benefits.