ALBION — Mark Hurt used to work in Washington, D.C., helping congressmen with legislation.
Now, he’d like to follow in the footsteps of one of his former bosses, Indiana Sen. Dan Coats.
Hurt, an attorney from Kokomo, is one of several Republicans seeking the party’s nomination for U.S. Senate next year for the chance to take on incumbent Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly. He visited Albion Monday evening and spoke about his candidacy to the Noble County Republican Women’s group at its meeting.
It’s a crowded field of six so far for the May primary eight months from now. Although Hurt knows he doesn’t have the name recognition of opponents Rep. Luke Messer and Rep. Todd Rokita who are already serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, he said he brings legislative experience and a middle-class Hoosier touch to the job.
“No one has ever accused me and my family of being elite. We work hard. We pay our bills the old-fashioned way,” he said.
Hurt graduated from Taylor University then pursued a master’s degree at Baylor University in Texas, with a focus on foreign policy. After getting his degrees, he went to work on Capitol Hill.
He worked as a legislative assistant for Iowa Rep. Fred Gandy before taking a role as senior policy analyst and legislative assistant for Coats. While working with Coats, he helped develop health care policies and the framework for health savings accounts.
He later worked as a health care policy adviser for Gov. John Engler in Michigan before obtaining his law degree and returning to Indiana to practice.
Hurt’s never held public office before, but he’s seen both how the mechanics of government are formed and the effects they have on everyday people as a business owner.
“I’ve actually been running a business, living under the same laws that everyone else passes,” Hurt said.
Hurt said his top three issues in his Senate run include concerns about the Iran nuclear deal inked by former President Barack Obama’s administration, abortion law and right-to-life, and reducing government regulations.
Health care is an area where he has experience and offered a nuanced approach to fixing problems with the insurance system, seeking measures that can control costs while giving individuals and small businesses more power to band together to get the cost savings afforded to large companies.
His main goal come next year? Defeat Donnelly.
Donnelly is a tough campaigner, and although the senator paints himself as a moderate, Hurt said Donnelly leans left much more often than he wants Hoosiers to know.
“He works the state, travels, gets out,” Hurt said. “He is all over, he’s working hard, and I understand he’s a nice man, but it’s all these votes I think don’t represent Hoosier common sense. A lot of radical votes, whether it’s gun or other issues, he seems to go with the Democrat establishment.”
Hurt said Hoosiers will get a small government conservative if they back him. He’d like to shrink the federal government and return power to states and local governments whenever possible.
“I’m a compassionate conservative. I really believe in … convicted civility. You really have strong core convictions and you stand on them, but you debate and interact civilly,” Hurt said.