Torr targeted by unions in GOP primary

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The May primary is one week away and people in Carmel are being urged to vote against state Representative Jerry Torr.

Attack ads sent through the mail target Torr for his support of mass transit. What’s unusual is that they come from a group that also supports mass transit.

An organization calling itself Believe in Indiana produced these expensive mailers. Believe in Indiana is financed by union construction workers who provide an example that all is fair, not just in love and war, but also in politics.

The mail pieces, three of them so far, accuse Republican Jerry Torr of wasteful spending on mass transit.  They urge voters to say no to Torr.

“It’s kind of ironic,” says Torr, “that the trade unions supported transit but yet they’re using that issue to try to drive up my negatives in Carmel.”

That’s right.

Reached by phone in Washington union leader Pete Rimsans told 24-Hour News 8 “We are 100 percent in favor of mass transit. We’re also 100 percent against Jerry Torr,” he said. “We’re trying to look at the big picture.”

“Clearly it’s just retribution against me personally,” says Torr, “because I championed right to work in Indiana.”

In fact, Pete Rimsans was one of the main opponents to right to work, a bill authored by Torr. In testimony before a legislative committee in 2011 Rimsans said, “We’re here today because of a national campaign to lower the wages of all Americans.”

So why not attack Torr on right to work?

Because his constituents support the measure that produced large rallies at the Statehouse and, in fact, it’s a centerpiece of his campaign.

“Making Indiana a right to work state and doing other things to help bring jobs here,” said Torr. “I’m just focusing on those things.”

And if the mailers work they will benefit Don Meier, Torr’s GOP primary opponent, who is troubled by the tactic.

“I’d like to say that I’m ok with it,” said Meier, “but I’m really, if I was on the receiving end of that I probably wouldn’t like it myself.”

Plus, Meier’s position on right to work is in line with Torr’s.

It really is personal.

The right to work bill passed in 2012 and Jerry Torr was re-elected later that year. He wasn’t targeted by the unions then because he didn’t have an opponent.

Believe in Indiana was willing to wait two years to conduct this battle and it’s the only race it’s taking part in this year.

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