Chief of staff launches Senate bid for Coats's seat
© Greg Nash

Retiring Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsCounterintelligence needs reboot for 21st century Ending FISA’s sunset provisions is not a risk worth taking Overnight Cybersecurity: Facebook's Sandberg backs release of Russian ads | Watchdog to probe alleged FCC cyberattack | Trump officially nominates new DHS head MORE's (R-Ind.) chief of staff is officially in the race for his boss's seat.

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Eric Holcomb, who recently took a leave of absence from Coats's office, announced that he will run for his boss's Senate seat, just two days after Coats announced his plans to retire.

"I know we can course correct our nation because I've seen it work before, right across the street in our very own statehouse," Holcomb, a former chairman of the state Republican Party, said in a noon announcement from Indianapolis.

"I want to lead that same proven solutions-oriented approach in Washington and I'm asking every Hoosier who feels a shared duty to return America to our rightful and respected leadership position to join me," he said

Holcomb could be a serious player in the primary. He has extensive connections with Republican activists throughout the state, and close ties to both Coats and popular former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R).

But he's unlikely to have the primary field to himself. More than half of Indiana's GOP congressional delegation as well as a few other Republicans are considering bids in what could become a free-for-all primary.

Democrats, who hope a crowded GOP primary could give them a chance in the Republican-leaning state, didn't take long to pounce.

"Eric Holcomb is a partisan insider who has spent years bouncing around from one GOP establishment job to another and will never be the independent voice that Indiana voters deserve from their Senator," Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Justin Barasky said ina statement.

"His candidacy is only the beginning of what will likely be a very messy Republican primary that weaken the GOP’s ability to hold the seat and help elect a new Democratic Senator who will always put Indiana first."