ANDERSON — Few differences were heard in the responses on Monday’s online forum from the Republicans seeking to win the 5th Congressional District nomination.

Fourteen of the 15 candidates in the June 2 primary participated from their homes in the forum sponsored by Indiana Town Halls.

There were two separate one-hour shifts.

What was obvious was that some candidates were reading their responses to the six questions asked of the first group and the second group that answered seven questions.

None of the candidates verbally attacked another of those seeking to capture the party’s nomination to replace incumbent Susan Brooks, who announced her retirement last year.

Most of the candidates praised the Trump administration for efforts in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The federal government has done as well as expected,” Allen Davidson said. “The remedies are counter to the president’s policies.”

Davidson said there was a lot of wasteful spending in the federal funds approved to combat the virus.

Matt Hook gave the Trump administration a grade of C-minus or D-plus in dealing with the pandemic. He said the United States has 5% of the world’s population but has 25% of the deaths related to the coronavirus.

“They dropped the ball in getting all the equipment that was needed,” Hook said. “We’re far behind the rest of the world in testing.”

Mark Small, who was the voice of dissent on almost every question, said the Trump administration should get a grade of D-minus or F.

“We should have had testing at the beginning of the crisis,” he said. “The federal government should have had a committee in place before there was a pandemic.”

On the question of term limits for members of Congress, almost all the candidates supported the concept.

Andrew Bales said he supported term limits but didn’t know what the limits should be, voicing concerns about a loss of experience.

Micah Beckwith said the terms should be limited to six in the U.S. House and two in the Senate.

Beth Henderson favored three terms in the House and two in the Senate.

Matt Hullinger said members of Congress should be limited to a total of 12 years in a combination between the House and Senate.

Current State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell said the voters decide on members of the House every two years.

“We need to educate people on the governmental system,” she said.

Victoria Spartz said members of the U.S. House have to run every two years.

Davidson said term limits would force out good, reliable members of Congress and turn them into lobbyists for special interest groups.

“It would do more harm than good,” he said.

Danny Niederberger said the limit in the U.S. House should be two terms, or four years.

After five years, he said, members of Congress are eligible for lifelong benefits.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter

@KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.

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