Joe Donnelly

The biggest winner in Indiana wasn’t even on the ballot. Both Senator Joe Donnelly (D) and challenger Mike Braun (R) are both big proponents of Donald Trump.

But the New York Times has declared Braun the winner, with 60 percent of the counted votes and 3,209 of 5,375 precincts reporting.

Donnelly and Braun tried to out-Trump one another in the campaign. Donnelly ran an ad that showed Trump praising him, and Braun fired back.

“When it comes to working with President Trump, Senator Donnelly voted against tax reform, supports Obamacare and Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, and now he’s waiting for Democrat permission to support Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh,” said Braun spokesman Josh Kelley.

Although he opposed Kavanaugh, Joe Donnelly did vote in favor of Justice Neil Gorsuch.

“If you want someone to be with a political party 100 percent of the time, I’m not that guy,” said Donnelly. “I’m not about party. Our politics are already too partisan and have become way too violent.”

Joe Donnelly made great on that, for sure. His closing argument for the midterms was a slam on liberalism and a call for a border wall. He also said he was open to supporting Trump’s plan to overturn the 14th Amendment, which would eliminate birthright citizenship. Donnelly has gone farther than that, though, essentially calling himself a Democrat in name only.

“You have to run on a party, because you have to be on the ballot, in effect. But the night the election’s over, that’s over,” he said.

But that seems not to have helped Donnelly. After all, if voters wanted a Republican, they could just vote for Braun.

The race showed the divisions within the political parties, and was a great highlight of the way that “centrist” Democrats have run toward the right.

“If you drop somebody in Indiana who didn’t know anything about the race, turn the television on and ask them to figure out who was the Democrat and who was the Republican — they couldn’t do it,” said Republican strategist Mike O’Brien. “He’s way over the line from where any self-respecting Democrat would want him to be.”

But Donnelly is no stranger to alienating self-respecting Democrats.

“The party occasionally gets mad, I really don’t care,” said Donnelly.

And so, the party didn’t care about him on election night.


Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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