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Alert: GOP Takes IN Senate Seat from Democrats as Braun Defeats Incumbent Donnelly

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Republican Mike Braun has defeated incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana.

Donnelly was elected to the upper chamber in 2012 in one of the more contentious races in recent memory. Longtime Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, considered to be a popular favorite in the general election, was defeated in the primary by tea party challenger Richard Mourdock.

During a debate with Donnelly, Mourdock answered a question about abortion by saying, “Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” The remark became a national story and marked a tipping point in the race, which Mourdock ended up losing.

The circumstances surrounding Donnelly’s win in the traditionally red state of Indiana and the fact that President Donald Trump won the state by nearly 20 points in 2016 gave Republicans hope for a pick-up in the Hoosier State.


However, Donnelly positioned himself as one of the more moderate members of the Democratic caucus in the upper chamber, voting for Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court and generally crossing the aisle more than his peers on issues like gun control and immigration.

Braun, a businessman and political novice, won a bruising three-way primary battle for the GOP nomination. In his victory speech, he said the businessman-politician was a “new dynamic we need in Washington” — a clear nod toward President Trump and his base.

Trump delivered for Braun, holding multiple rallies in the Hoosier State for the candidate.

At a Nov. 2 rally, the president linked Braun’s candidacy with continued economic prosperity, saying, “This election will decide whether we build on the extraordinary prosperity that we’ve unleashed or whether we let the radical Democrats take control of Congress and take a giant wrecking ball to our economy and to our future.”

As for Donnelly, the incumbent senator focused on the fact that he was a moderate, often standing with the president on issues such as trade.

“(Y)ears of unfair trade deals have enabled corporations to ship good-paying jobs to foreign countries while flooding American markets with cheap foreign goods,” reads a passage from Donnelly’s campaign website, which sounds like it could have been lifted directly from a Trump speech.


With issues like gun control and trade relegated to the background, the campaign seemed to crystallize around health care and which candidate could help deliver better economic results for Indiana.

In the late stages of the campaign, however, Donnelly came under fire for suspicious ads for Libertarian candidate Lucy Brenton, a candidate who was set to be a spoiler in the race.

On Nov. 2, The Daily Beast reported that the state Democratic Party had been buying Facebook ads supporting Brenton, who seemed poised to take more votes away from Republicans than Democrats. This prompted an angry tweet from Trump, who compared it to claims of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“Rumor has it that Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana is paying for Facebook ads for his so-called opponent on the libertarian ticket,” Trump tweeted. “Donnelly is trying to steal the election? Isn’t that what Russia did!?”

A RealClearPolitics polling average showed Brenton running at over 5 percent of the vote — enough to decide the election either way, given that Donnelly was only ahead by 0.8 points in that average as of Sunday.

For more up to date election coverage, check out The Western Journal’s live coverage.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture