Politics

Indiana Republican Mike Braun Defeats Joe Donnelly in Close Race

The contest was called for the outsider with 54.9 percent of the vote in his favor

Image Credit: Mike Braun / Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Republican businessman Mike Braun (shown above right) was able to beat back incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)(above left) on Tuesday night in a race that remained close up until Indiana voters went to the polls.

Braun won as a political outsider who has promised to disrupt the stagnant political class.

In a statement after winning the race, Braun said in part about Indiana, “We’re a state that works, and I thank my lucky stars that I was born in this state  … We need to get our president re-elected [in 2020], and what we’re gonna do is … get more people from the real world that have had to do things and fix things in a dysfunctional system.”

President Donald Trump relentlessly campaigned for him after running on a similar message during his own presidential election of 2016. His message, in the end, seemed to resonate with voters in the state who elected him. Fox News called the race in his favor with the vote at 54.9 percent to 41 percent. That put him over the edge with 56 percent of the vote counted.

Related: Marsha Blackburn Triumphs in Tennessee Senate Race on Tuesday Night

The race has also drawn national attention with the chance the seat could flip. Trump and other Republican leaders held rallies and pushed for voters to back Braun. Former President Barack Obama and other notable figures on the Left naturally campaigned for Donnelly. At the same time, both campaigns were raking in millions of dollars in political contributions.

Related: Trump Pushes Hard for Indiana Senate Candidate Braun Days Before Election

Trump was a notable factor in the race anyway, having won the state by 19 points during the presidential election.

He also played an increasingly active role in the election as it started to enter its final stretch.

The president held a rally just a day before in support of Braun. He also held a rally alongside Vice President Mike Pence just a few days prior on Friday.

The president being popular in the state did not go unnoticed by either candidate. Braun promised to be a relentless ally of the president who will help fight for his agenda for the benefit of Indiana. Donnelly highlighted how he voted with the president many times and is willing to work with him it’s in the benefit of the state.

Indiana voters were evenly split between the two candidates throughout much of the election. ScottRasmussen.com has kept the race at a toss-up for months. RealClearPolitics did show Donnelly start to pick up a notable lead in the final week at an eight-point advantage. Donnelly typically held a slight lead in polls but that became more mixed in the final weeks.

Trump has been fully invested in the midterms overall with the election results potentially putting his agenda at risk. He has held dozens of rallies across the country in recent months to stir support for conservative candidates. He ramped up those efforts in the final week by traveling across the country for 11 different rallies.

Braun came into the race as the founder and president of Meyer Distributing and owner of Meyer Logistics. He also served on the Indiana House of Representatives for three years. His campaign has focused on creating jobs, healthcare, government spending, border security, and veterans. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed him for his views on businesses September 25.

Braun also promises to drain the swamp in reference to a phrase the president uses to describe his battle against the entrenched political class. He has argued that there isn’t enough accountability in the federal government and his opponent is part of the problem.

Related: Mike Braun Has Plan to Shake Up Joe Donnelly, Political Class

Donnelly has built his platform around issues like education, veterans, the economy and healthcare alongside his record of working across the aisle. He has also highlighted his connection to the state and experiences running a small printing shop during his campaign as well. He previously served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The midterm elections overall have gained a notable amount of attention coming at a time of great political unrest. Trump’s win of the presidential election was seen by many as a rebuke of elitist dogma that hurt everyday people. But critics see the midterms as a way to challenge the president and what they see as a racist and hateful agenda.

The Center for Responsive Politics released a report last week projecting that the current midterm elections will be the most expensive ever at more than $5.2 billion. Every prior election didn’t even surpass $4.2 billion in spending when adjusted for inflation.

The overall estimated cost would represent a 35 percent increase from 2014.

Braun was able to win the race, having raised $16,148,137. His campaign had been primarily self-financed, at 59 percent of funds raised. Donnelly was outpacing him in fundraising for much of the election, but that evened out toward the end at $16,031,094. He received most of those funds through large individual contributions at 54 percent.

Libertarian candidate Lucy Brenton lagged behind the two major party candidates but still picked up ____ percent of the vote. The Indiana Democratic Party even sent out a mailer suggesting she is the real fiscal conservative — in an apparent move to siphon off votes from Braun.

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