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Midterms 2018

Donnelly Warns of Republican Surge in Wake of Kavanaugh

Indiana Democrats asked in new fundraising email to get out their checkbooks before it's too late in one of nation's tightest Senate races

Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) appealed to donors for more help Monday because “Republican enthusiasm is surging after the Brett Kavanaugh fight,” with just 22 days of campaign left before voters go to the polls November 6.

“Republican enthusiasm is surging after the Brett Kavanaugh fight, especially in states like Indiana. If we don’t push back, Democrats’ chances of taking back the Senate could PLUMMET!” Donnelly’s campaign said in a fundraising email that LifeZette obtained.

“Joe Donnelly was already one of the Democrats most likely to lose a Senate seat. That didn’t stop him from voting for Hoosiers and against Kavanaugh,” the email declared.

Justice Kavanaugh — President Donald Trump’s second successful Supreme Court nominee — was confirmed following a bitter political fight that has become a huge issue going into the midterm elections.

Because Trump carried Indiana by a large margin and Donnelly (pictured above right) voted to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017, the Indiana senator was considered a potential swing vote for Kavanaugh (above left), but in the end Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was the lone Democrat to vote with Republicans on the confirmation.

Related: Red Wave? Dem Pollster Sees Republican Surge in Kavanaugh Aftermath

Donnelly, who is seeking a second six-year term in the Senate, is in a tough race against Republican businessman Mike Braun. Donnelly has sought to link Braun with “the entire force of the right-wing money machine.” Trump has also actively campaigned for Braun.

“Indiana’s Senate race has been one of the most competitive in the country from the very beginning, and the GOP is pulling out all the stops for their extreme candidate,” the Donnelly email said.

Braun campaign spokesman Josh Kelly told LifeZette that “while Mexico Joe Donnelly brags about voting against Justice Kavanaugh, Mike Braun has received a groundswell of grassroots support from Hoosiers since Mexico Joe Donnelly confirmed yet again he stands with the extreme left instead of with us.”

The Indiana election has remained at a dead heat, making it uncertain whether he will hold his seat. ScottRasmussen.com puts the race at a toss-up, with 51 percent turnout in favor of Democrats. The Cook Political Report put the race as one of only five toss-ups.

Democratic pollster Mark Mellman has previously warned that the process woke up conservatives and may have united Trump supporters with conservatives who were uneasy about the president.

Kavanaugh’s character was relentlessly attacked after three women publicly accused him of sexual assaults dating back to when they were in their high school and college freshman years. He strenuously denied the allegations, and none of the three witnesses the women said would verify their claims did so.

Rasmussen Reports found in a survey Wednesday that 62 percent of Republicans are more likely to vote because of the bitter Kavanaugh confirmation process, compared to 54 percent of Democrats. The survey also found that voters are now evenly split between Democrats and Republicans on the generic ballot, with each party drawing 45 percent support.

Related: Survey Says Republicans Are Madder and More Likely to Vote Than Dems

Democrats have led the generic ballot, which measures which party’s candidates a voter plans to support, all of 2018, often by double digits. As a result, mainstream media outlets and liberal political pundits have, for most of the year, projected a blue wave in November that would restore a Democratic majority in the House.

In another indication of greatly increased Republican enthusiasm following the Kavanaugh controversy, the Republican National Committee announced that it has generated 50 million volunteer voter contacts across 28 states and 172 congressional districts.

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 he retired in 2017 to focus on his Senate campaign. Braun has also touted his business experience as the founder of Meyer Distributing and owner of Meyer Logistics.

meet the author

Connor D. Wolf covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at [email protected].