Stutzman Announces Run For Souder's Seat

By Peter Neumann
By Scott Sarvay
By Jeff Neumeyer

June 18, 2010 Updated May 20, 2010 at 5:55 PM EDT

ANGOLA, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- One of the candidates who hopes to succeed departing Congressman Mark Souder, on Thursday, addressed head on what he knew about the extra-marital affair that forced Souder to resign this week.

It was obvious Marlin Stutzman was ready for a line of questioning that goes far beyond the issues most pressing in this campaign.

Jeff Neumeyer : "On a tour stop in the city of Angola, the State Senator from LaGrange County first had to answer what he knew about Souder's infidelity.

Stutzman, who worked for Souder between 2006 and 2008, admits he heard the rumors that Souder and Tracy Jackson, a part-time staffer for the Congressman, were having an affair.

Marlin Stutzman/(R) Candidate for Congress: " People had said something about their relationship and you know, when you're in political office, you always have people that are trying to come up with something against you, our job was to go to Mark and that's what we did, and Mark said there was nothing to it, and so we left it."

Stutzman, absorbed in a run for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination through the early part of 2010, says he heard talk of the affair re-surface the Saturday before the May Primary, but as for Internet chatter, suggesting that he was the whistleblower?

Stutzman: " We know that's out there, but there is no truth to that at all. I mean, we were running a United States Senate race."

Stutzman is considered an early frontrunner to try and replace Souder when a June caucus is held, allowing about 500 precinct committeemen and women to select the party's nominee.

Stutzman knows the recent controversy could hurt the GOP survivor, who must take on Democrat Tom Hayhurst this fall.

Stutzman: " All the rumors that are flying around out there, this is about two people's mistakes and you know, ultimately that's why we're in the situation we're in, and we need to look forward at the issues that are going on in Washington, the spending, the debt."

Stutzman has some momentum working in his favor.

He finished second to Dan Coats in the Senate primary.

He beat out three other candidates, including a long-time congressman from Southern Indiana, and in the Third Congressional District, Stutzman finished first.

That's the area that he can focus on exclusively now.

It's a conservative district, and Stutzman, who has garnered support from Tea Party voters, would likely be considered at least as attractive to conservatives as any other candidate.

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