By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS  — Republican Steve Braun announced Monday he was suspending his 5th CD campaign due to health reasons, injecting a new wave of volatility just as the field is about to expand.

Braun’s announcement came just days after Zionsville Dr. Chuck Dietzen entered the race, while Col. Kent Abernathy and Beth Henderson are poised to enter. Another potential candidate, former state senator Mike Delph, is expected to enter after the November municipal elections. Micah Beckwith, State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell and Danny Niederberger have already filed FEC paperwork and have formed campaigns.

Braun was expected to be a potential frontunner with his ability to self-fund, as he did in his 2018 race for the 4th CD. But Braun said Monday, “During an annual check-up with my doctor in September, an issue was identified that requires me to step away from campaigning for 5th District for the next few months. I am both frustrated and disappointed to have to suspend my campaign at this critical juncture. Now more than ever, we need to send individuals to Washington who have the capability, the experience and the willingness to address the problems we face.” 

Braun’s decision to suspend his campaign injects uncertainty. It is unclear if he will reactivate. But losing two or three months heading into a crowded and contested primary will pose a signifcant hurdle. Braun was expected to compete for the so-called “moderate” Repubican vote, with Beckwith, Delph and Dietzen actively courting the social conservatives.

State Sen. John Ruckelshaus, who pondered a 5th CD run but then decided to seek reelection, told HPI Monday that Braun’s decision won’t change his plans. “I wish the best for Steve,” Ruckelshaus said. “I’m still committed to the state of Indiana and my reelection. We’re sticking to our guns.”

Abernathy to run

West Point graduate and businessman, Col. (ret.) Kent Abernathy, announced his 5th CD candidacy on Monday. “West Point instilled in me the principles I have carried with me throughout my life – duty, honor, country,” said Abernathy. “We need leaders in Washington willing to make the tough decisions to defend the constitution, to pay down our debt, to honor our veterans, and to support our military.” Abernathy describes himself as an “outsider” having spent his career in the military and business. “Now more than ever we need principled leaders in Washington to break the stranglehold career politicians have on the system,” said Abernathy.  “I’ve spent my entire career in service and in business where we get things done and come home - I’ll do just that as your next Congressman.”

Dietzen announces

A Kokomo native has announced he is running for the U.S. Congress seat currently occupied by outgoing Rep. Susan Brooks. Republican Dr. Chuck Dietzen, who grew up in Kokomo and now lives in Zionsville, announced Thursday that he would seek Indiana’s 5th CD seat after Brooks revealed in June she would not seek a fifth term (Myers, Kokomo Tribune).  “I want to serve the community that has given me extraordinary opportunities to make a difference in the lives of people here and all over the world,” said Dietzen in a media release announcing his campaign. He added: “Some important and far-reaching issues will be decided in Washington in the near future. I want to make sure we make healthcare work for patients, and socialized medicine does not work. I want to ensure our families and communities thrive – to do that we must protect our constitutional freedoms. Dietzen recently retired from his role as director of child opediatric rehabilitation medicine at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, according to the release. Dietzen, a member of the Howard County Hall of Legends, is the founder of and a volunteer for Timmy Global Health. The organization is described by his campaign as “an Indianapolis based nonprofit that has worked to expand healthcare access in developing countries.” He is also a co-founder of iSalur Healthcare, an electronic medical records system. 

Black caucus hosts Thornton

The Indiana General Assembly Black Caucus is hosting a luncheon with 5th CD Democrat candidate Dee Thornton at noon today at the Indiana Firefighters Union Local 416, 748 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis.