Republican Mike Braun defeated incumbent U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly Tuesday – shutting Indiana Democrats out of all statewide elected office.
Indiana’s race was viewed around the country as one of the most critical in this year’s electoral battle for control of the U.S. Senate.
Donnelly did everything he could in the campaign to position himself in the center of the political road. And in the end, he got run over.
Yet in his brief concession speech, Donnelly still struck a tone of unity.
“We need to make sure we work to bring our country together, rather than to divide it. To make sure every American has a chance,” Donnelly says.
Senator-elect Braun says he’ll go to Washington to prove that Indiana’s way of thinking will work for the rest of the nation.
“We’ve got two years to show that, as conservatives, we can make things work. We need to get our president re-elected,” Braun says.
Braun emerged in May from a hotly-contested GOP primary against two sitting congressmen – Luke Messer and Todd Rokita. That race was an intense one, in large part because Donnelly was one of this cycle’s most vulnerable incumbents; he’s a Democrat in a state President Donald Trump won by 19 points.
And while Trump’s popularity waned the last two years, Hoosier voters still view him more favorable than not. And that helped deliver Braun, who ran as the candidate most closely aligned with the Trump agenda, to victory.
Donnelly aligned himself with Trump as well. He often quoted his record, in which he voted with the GOP president 62 percent of the time. But Braun hammered the Indiana Democrat for the votes in which he broke with Trump: health care, tax reform, and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Braun ran as a candidate molded in the image of Donald Trump. He often said he was inspired to run by Trump’s 2016 victory. And Braun painted himself as a successful businessman and relative political outsider (despite three years in the Indiana Statehouse).
Libertarian candidate Lucy Brenton hoped to play a spoiler in the race. But it’s hard to know what impact she had on the outcome – her positions make it likely that she drew votes from both candidates.
Donnelly’s loss leaves Democrats without a single statewide elected official.