Republican businessman Mike Braun hopes to shake up the political Establishment by becoming the next senator from Indiana. LifeZette spoke with him about his plan and why he would be better than Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).
“I’m running primarily as a businessman and entrepreneur,” Braun (pictured above) told LifeZette. “So I’ve learned a lot. I’ve always been an independent thinker and someone who has had to survive over all those years growing the business 20 percent a year. You have to do a lot of things and solve a lot of problems, and that real-world experience is lacking in D.C.”
Braun is founder and president of Meyer Distributing and owner of Meyer Logistics. He showcased his business experience in his first campaign ad June 7, promising to use his business experience in dealing with health care costs, crumbling infrastructure, and the chronically growing national debt.
Indiana voters will elect Braun or Donnelly November 6. Donnelly was elected to the Senate in 2012 after serving three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Braun was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives from 2014 till retiring to focus on his Senate campaign in 2017.
“Seemingly nobody there knows what to do or has the backbone to do something about it,” Braun said. “There are so many problems, it’s almost overwhelming to think about what needs to be done. But I feel quite certain that if we keep sending the same folks there we’re not going to see much of a change.”
The Indiana election has attracted national attention and for good reason, with the chance the seat could flip. Braun argues that there isn’t enough accountability in the federal government, and not enough is getting done. He sees Donnelly as more of the same and therefore should be voted out.
“Obviously that’s pretty basic in business,” Braun said. “The hardest part of building a business is earning revenues. Get people to pay you for whatever you are providing, building or delivering. The government gets the revenue and can’t effectively use it and then ends up chronically spending more than it takes in.”
President Donald Trump also ran as an outsider businessman promising to disrupt the stagnant political class. Braun sees himself as paralleling Trump.
“When I look at the Senate, I think there are maybe three or four individuals that are fresh out of the business world,” Braun said. “We don’t have many that either stick with it or get there. A lot of times, you’ll get people running on that platform but they’re up against well-heeled incumbents that are quite the opposite. Most have been there for a long time.”
Braun is already thinking ahead on how to ensure he represents his constituents instead of getting lost in the political swamp. He favors terms limits because he believes higher-quality individuals would enter politics and public service if it weren’t possible to make a career out of seeking and filling elected office.
“Joe Donnelly, to me, looks like he postured all of his votes based on what Chuck Schumer lets him do.”
Braun also stressed the importance of taking risks to get things done. Donnelly, he argues, hasn’t fought for change or taken risks but instead just followed party leaders like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Braun wants to break the stranglehold that career politicians like his opponent have on the federal government.
“He just gets along to go along and I think you need folks that have something they’re going to try to stick their neck out on and take a few risks,” Braun said. “In life, if you don’t take risks, you’re not going to get any reward, and you’re certainly not going to accomplish much. Joe Donnelly, to me, looks like he postured all of his votes based on what Chuck Schumer lets him do.”
Braun points to Donnelly’s support of the Iran Deal and opposition to Trump’s tax cuts and repeal of Obamacare. Braun argues that Donnelly will mainly fight hard to protect his pay and perks as a senator, not to represent constituents.
Donnelly comes into the race claiming numerous accomplishments, given his work on education, veterans, the economy and health care. He claims to have worked hard to maintain his connection to the state by listening to residents at hundreds of events and meetings. He also touted his experiences as a small-business owner, running a printing shop.
“It’s been interesting, it’s been a challenge,” Braun said. “A lot of my entrepreneurial instincts have come into play in how I ran the primary and likewise here in the general. So you got that blessing of having a certain savvy that comes along with competing in the real world.”
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The Indiana election appears to be a dead heat. ScottRasmussen.com puts the race at a toss-up, with 52 percent turnout in favor of Democrats. The Cook Political Report also has the race as a toss-up. Trump won the state by 19 points during the presidential election in 2016.
“I think here the stakes are high and for Democrats, the federal government is the end-all and be-all of everything, so they’re going to fight to gain a seat and maintain them,” Braun said.
“But I think they have a poor message. It’s been a message of more government that we’re not currently paying for. But that excitement and interest that comes from doing it. It’s been a heck of an experience,” Braun added.
Donnelly has raised $11,495,629, compared to the $8,258,437 Braun has raised, according to the most recently available FEC reports. Braun has mainly self-financed his own campaign at 75.58 percent of funds raised during the primaries.