Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2012, 2nd term.

Born: February 27, 1969, Evansville

Home: Shelbyville

Education: Wabash College, B.A., 1991; Vanderbilt University, J.D., 1994

Professional Career: President, Hoosiers for Economic Growth Network, 2010-12; practicing lawyer, 2006-present; executive director, Indiana Republican Party, 2001-05; legal counsel, House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, 1999; legal counsel, Reps. Dan Burton, R-Ind., and David McIntosh, R-Ind., 1998-99; press secretary, Rep. Ed Bryant, R-Tenn., 1997; legal counsel, Koch Industries, 1995-96

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Presbyterian

Family: Married (Jennifer Messer) , 3 children

Republican Luke Messer took the seat in 2012 of Rep. Mike Pence, the prominent conservative who left Congress after six terms to successfully run for governor. Just two years later, Messer elected chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, the No. 5 GOP leadership post.

Messer was born in Evansville, and the family moved to Greensburg when he was 4 years old. A sixth-generation Hoosier, Messer traces his Republican ideology and interest in politics to his family roots. Messer’s grandmother, Helen Rotzien, was a ward chairman and secretary of the Marion County Republican Central Committee in the 1960s. His “personal hero,” Messer told National Journal, is his mother, a 40-year employee of Delta Faucet who raised him as a single mother. He said she exemplifies hard-working values and taught him that “anyone can come from humble beginnings.” Messer attended Wabash College, paying his tuition by working as a waiter and telemarketer and graduating in 1991 with a major in speech.

Messer earned a law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1994 and went on to jobs on Capitol Hill with three members of Congress, including Republican Rep. Dan Burton. In 2000, Messer ran for an open House seat against Pence and lost in the GOP primary. But he went on to be the executive director of the Indiana Republican Party in 2004 and had a role in the successful gubernatorial campaign of Republican Mitch Daniels.

Messer was appointed to the Indiana House to fill a vacancy after the death of the incumbent and represented Shelby and Bartholomew counties. During his time in the legislature, Messer’s signature issue was education. His legislation aimed at curbing high school drop-out rates received national attention after Shelbyville High School became a symbol of a national dropout crisis. As highlighted in a Time magazine cover story and a special on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Messer’s 2005 bill made Indiana raise its minimum dropout age from 16 to 18. Since the legislation was implemented, Shelbyville High School’s graduation rate has increased from 75% to 90%.

Messer was also inspired to write a children’s book called Hoosier Heart. The book, illustrated by his wife, Jennifer, follows the journey of Emma and Ava (named after his daughters) and their friend, Ben, as they discover what it means to be a Hoosier.

In 2010, Messer challenged longtime incumbent Burton, his former boss, in the Republican primary in the 5th District and lost narrowly. Republicans in charge of redistricting the following year thoughtfully put his home of Shelbyville in the redrawn 6th District, solid GOP turf perfect for Messer.

When he announced his candidacy for the seat in May 2011, Messer publicly aligned himself with Pence’s policies. His top competitor in the packed GOP field was real estate investor Travis Hankins. Messer vastly outraised him, but Hankins ran a competitive grassroots campaign, personally calling more than 19,000 voters and spending the majority of his funds on yard signs to cover the 19-county district. Messer remained the choice of the GOP establishment and benefited from a timely endorsement from the popular Daniels days before the primary. Hankins finished second to Messer.

Messer’s finances and the partisan layout of the newly redrawn district practically ensured him a victory, and he defeated Democrat Bradley Bookout, a former Delaware County Council member, 59%-35%.

In the House, Messer has been a loyal conservative. He immediately impressed his like-minded colleagues, serving as one of the GOP freshman class presidents. Kentucky GOP Rep. Thomas Massie told The Indianapolis Star that Messer was “probably the best listener I have met here in Congress" and that he is "always able to articulate what I think better than what I can.” He has been an especially vigorous champion of school choice, drawing on his earlier work in Indiana. "The simple truth is too many kids in America have their destiny determined by zip codes," he said in an op-ed column. "That’s because too many families live in neighborhoods with bad schools, and they can’t afford to do anything about it."

He jumped into the Policy Committee chairman's race after Oklahoma's James Lankford moved over to the Senate. Playing up his support from Pence, a highly respected figure among conservatives, Messer donated money to an array of candidates and promised to expand the Policy Committee's staff to help new members and committee chairs. Messer beat New York's Tom Reed 137 to 90 after Georgia's Rob Woodall was eliminated on the first ballot.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3021

(202) 225-3382

CHOB- Cannon House Office Building Room 508
Washington, DC 20515-1406

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3021

(202) 225-3382

CHOB- Cannon House Office Building Room 508
Washington, DC 20515-1406

DISTRICT OFFICE

(317) 421-0704

(317) 421-0739

2 Public Square
Shelbyville, IN 46176

DISTRICT OFFICE

(317) 421-0704

(317) 421-0739

2 Public Square
Shelbyville, IN 46176

DISTRICT OFFICE

(765) 962-2883

(765) 962-3225

50 North Fifth Street
Richmond, IN 47374

DISTRICT OFFICE

(765) 962-2883

(765) 962-3225

50 North Fifth Street
Richmond, IN 47374

DISTRICT OFFICE

(765) 747-5566

(765) 747-5586

107 West Charles Street
Muncie, IN 47305

DISTRICT OFFICE

(765) 747-5566

(765) 747-5586

107 West Charles Street
Muncie, IN 47305

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

345 West Broadway
Shelbyville, IN 46176

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

345 West Broadway
Shelbyville, IN 46176

Staff Leadership Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Jake Vreeburg
Legislative Director

Aerospace

Robert Goad
Senior Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Robert Goad
Senior Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Jake Vreeburg
Legislative Director

Budget

Jake Vreeburg
Legislative Director

Commerce

Molly Newell
Legislative Assistant

Education

Molly Newell
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Molly Newell
Legislative Assistant

Environment

Robert Goad
Senior Legislative Assistant

Finance

Robert Goad
Senior Legislative Assistant

Foreign

Molly Newell
Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Robert Goad
Senior Legislative Assistant

Gun Issues

Jake Vreeburg
Legislative Director

Health

Molly Newell
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Jake Vreeburg
Legislative Director

Immigration

Jake Vreeburg
Legislative Director

Intelligence

Jake Vreeburg
Legislative Director

Molly Newell
Legislative Assistant

Judiciary

Jake Vreeburg
Legislative Director

Robert Goad
Senior Legislative Assistant

Labor

Molly Newell
Legislative Assistant

Military

Molly Newell
Legislative Assistant

Public Works

Robert Goad
Senior Legislative Assistant

Science

Robert Goad
Senior Legislative Assistant

Small Business

Molly Newell
Legislative Assistant

Tax

Molly Newell
Legislative Assistant

Technology

Robert Goad
Senior Legislative Assistant

Telecommunications

Molly Newell
Legislative Assistant

Trade

Molly Newell
Legislative Assistant

Transportation

Robert Goad
Senior Legislative Assistant

Veterans

Molly Newell
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Luke Messer
Votes: 162,613
Percent: 59.08%
Bradley Bookout
Votes: 96,678
Percent: 35.12%
Rex Bell
Votes: 15,962
Percent: 5.8%
2012 PRIMARY
Luke Messer
Votes: 32,859
Percent: 40.35%
Travis Hankins
Votes: 23,276
Percent: 28.59%
Don Bates
Votes: 10,913
Percent: 13.4%
Bill Frazier
Votes: 8,446
Percent: 10.37%

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