Staff Report TheStatehouseFile.com INDIANAPOLIS—U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita has changed his mind and will now face his fellow Republicans at the April 30 debate sponsored by the nonpartisan Indiana Debate Commission. Rokita, one of three Republicans running for the Senate, initially refused to participate, saying that the debates should be organized by the party. U.S. Rep. Luke Messer and businessman Mike Braun had already agreed to the debate, which will be held at 7 p.m. in WFYI-TV’s studio in Indianapolis. It will be broadcast across the state. “Debate is a great option for Hoosier voters who may be undecided, and we’re pleased that all candidates in this contested GOP primary are now 100 percent invested in this final debate before the May 8 primary,” said Commission President Gerry Lanosga in a news release. Rokita, in a news release, said his change of heart was because he didn’t want his GOP rivals to go unchallenged. He has cast himself as the strongest supporter of President Donald Trump and has accused Messer and Braun of misleading voters about their support of the president. Rokita, Braun and Messer share almost identical views on the major issues, from support of a border wall with Mexico to stopping the Robert Mueller investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Rokita also took a shot at the debate moderator, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, a conservative political commentator, accusing him of bias against him and the president. Shabazz said he believes that he treats everyone fairly, adding that he is glad Rokita is participating in the debate. “The Commission is extremely non-partisan and only wants Hoosiers to be informed,” Shabazz said.  “And speaking for me, personally, I'm glad the Rokita camp finally reached the conclusion that their fears about participating in this event were unfounded.” The commission has invited voters to submit questions to the candidates online through the IDC’s website at

. The winner of the May 8 primary will face U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, the Democratic incumbent who has no primary challenge.  TheStatehouseFile.com is a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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