Can the GOP Gain Seats in States Trump Won? Latest from Indiana By Phillip Howard

Can the GOP Gain Seats in States Trump Won? Latest from Indiana By Phillip Howard

There are ten Democratic Senators up for reelection this midterm in states that Donald Trump won in 2016. This series analyzes the state of these races (examples here & here) now that Republican challengers are in place. This piece focuses on Indiana, where incumbent Senator Joe Donnelly is defending his seat against Republican challenger Mike Braun.

Braun earned a B.A. from Wabash College and an M.B.A. from Harvard. Braun is a businessman who works at Meyer Distribution, a marketing and distribution company. Braun served in the Indiana House of Representatives for three years, prior to resigning to run for the U.S. Senate.  Braun won a competitive GOP Primary with 41 percent of the vote, ahead of Todd Rokita (30 percent) and Luke Messer (29 percent).

 Photo by Evan Vucci/AP

Photo by Evan Vucci/AP

Braun and Donnelly have lauded President Trump during the campaign. Marjorie Hershey, Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, contends that if Braun “did anything other than staple himself to Trump, he knows what the reaction would be from the president.” Further adding that for this election, “the number one criteria for presidential support is are they personally willing to be devoted to President Trump. And if they’re not, they don’t last long.” President Trump has Tweeted praise for Braun, calling him “a very successful businessman,” and during a recent rally in Indiana, claiming “a vote for Mike Braun is a vote to . . . make America great again.”

Braun has aligned himself with the “trust Trump” camp regarding trade, a major consideration in states with economies that heavily rely on agricultural. Braun contends the president’s approach has “already yielded phenomenal results with the EU and Mexico.” At the same time, Braun has also suggested Trump administration tariffs have “gone too far and are turning farmers and manufacturers into collateral damage.”

 Photo by Andrew Harnik/AFP

Photo by Andrew Harnik/AFP

Senator Donnelly is a potential swing vote in the confirmation prospects of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The issue has divided the two Senate candidates. Donnelley has long called for FBI investigation of sexual assault allegations and recently indicated he will vote against confirming Kavanaugh.

Prior to Thursday’s Senate hearing, Braun contended the process had unfolded fairly and that all sides should be heard. Afterwards, Braun stated the hearing was an “embarrassment” and that Dr. Christine Blassy Ford’s testimony was “sketchier” than Kavanaugh’s. Braun issued a statement “strongly supporting” Kavanaugh’s confirmation and criticizing Donnelly.  

The current FBI investigation concluded yesterday. The Senate is tentatively expected to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation later this week. Real Clear Politics, which aggregates various polls, has Joe Donnelly up an average of nearly 4 points. The fallout of Brett Kavanaugh’s fate will likely be a factor moving forward.



Phillip Howard is a graduate student at Utica College

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