- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2018

Rep. Luke Messer sided Thursday with fans of Notre Dame’s “Fighting Irish” leprechaun mascot after an ESPN host said it should be retired as part of a purge of sports logos that have come to be seen as offensive and racist.

The Indiana Republican and U.S. Senate candidate said Max Kellerman’s assertion that the leprechaun mascot should “unequivocally” go is the latest example of how the the sports network has “lost its mind.”

“This is political correctness gone crazy,” Mr. Messer said. “The Fighting Irish mascot represents the fighting spirit of Notre Dame’s sports teams over the last century. Clearly, ESPN has lost its mind. They’ve given up on sports and now only care about being politically correct. They ought to change their name to ESPC.”

Mr. Messer is running in a field that includes Rep. Todd Rokita and former state lawmaker Mike Braund for the GOP Senate nomination, and the chance to take on Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in the November election.

Asked about the brouhaha over the mascot, Will Baskin-Gerwitz, spokesman for the Donnelly camp, poked fun at Mr. Messer, a graduate of Wabash College.

“Wabash football players once made a name for themselves by beating Notre Dame on the football field, but now it seems their alumni are seeking attention by trying to yell about them on Twitter,” Mr. Baskin-Gerwitz said. “Sadly for Congressman Messer, anyone looking for a senator who’ll be a good steward of the Fighting Irish’s legacy will probably vote for the two-time graduate of Notre Dame, Joe Donnelly.”

Mr. Messer fired back, demanding that Mr. Donnelly come clean with voters over whether he is pro-leprechaun mascot.

“Senator Donnelly do you think the Fighting Irish nickname should be changed?” he said. “This isn’t hard, stand up for your two-time alma mater against ESPN and the PC police.”

Mr. Kellerman weighed in on the leprechaun’s future this week on ESPN’s “First Take” morning show after the Cleveland Indians announced they will be ridding themselves of the Chief Wahoo logo in 2019.

“Many Irish Americans are not offended, but many are,” Mr. Kellerman said. “And should that also change? The answer is yes, unequivocally yes.”

“Pernicious, negative stereotype of marginalized people that offend even some among them should be changed,” he said. “It is not that hard.”

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