Monday, November 12, 2012

Donnelly Will Make Fine Senator

Senator-Elect Joe Donnelly
In January, Congressman Joe Donnelly will become Senator Joe Donnelly, and I predict that Indiana will not regret sending a Democrat to the Senate again from the Hoosier State.  Donnelly's win signaled a couple of things to me.

First, Indiana still doesn't do crazy very well when it comes to statewide candidates in high profile races.  Mike Pence realized that and backed away from Richard Mourdock when he made his controversial comments at the Indiana Senate Debate on October 23 quicker than you back away from a rattlesnake while looking for your golf ball in the weeds.  While he refused to drop his support for Mourdock completely, his first instinct was to demand an apology.  It was an apology that never came because Richard Mourdock thought he said nothing wrong.

Secondly, the Donnelly win shows that a moderate Democrat, in the mold of Evan Bayh, can still win in this state.  That's positive and negative news for the more liberal Democrats in the state.  Donnelly will certainly continue to vote as a moderate, but he will have to be even more of a moderate given his position as a Senator for the entire state.  He can remain reasonable rather than being pulled one way or the other by the ideological right or left.  That's how Indiana likes its state politicians to act, especially at the national level.

Donnelly ran a disciplined, nearly flawless campaign that started positive, went negative at the right time, and tried to close on a positive note when Mourdock buried his own campaign.  You could tell that Mourdock was in real trouble when Donnelly began to fold in some of the lighter-in-tone ads over the past few days of the campaign.  Mourdock didn't have that luxury.

Let's face it though, Indiana is indeed a red state.  It took a near perfect campaign by a strong candidate to win this thing for the Democrats.  Richard Mourdock was simply one of the worst candidates I've ever seen for a high-profile state office.  The GOP will be kicking itself for years over the debacle that sent Richard Lugar home and Richard Mourdock to the nomination.

However it happened, Indiana gets a Democrat back at the Senate level for the first time since 2011.  That man is Joe Donnelly, and I think Hoosier voters will like what they get for their votes.  You may or may not always agree with him, but he's not going to embarrass this state.

1 comment:

Traci Lipp said...

Congrats to our new Senator! When Bayh was Senator, he sponsored a series of political training workshops for prospective candidates and their campaign managers called "Camp Bayh." With the quality campaign Senator Donnelly ran, I hope he will step up and share his knowledge and strategy with those of us down-ballot Democrats, so we can replicate his victory in the future.