Democrat Hopes of Winning Congress Took a Hit Last Night

From West Virginia to Indiana, Democrat hopes of a Congressional takeover took serious blows in last night's primaries.

The Democrat Party’s hope for taking over Congress, specifically the U.S. Senate, took a couple body blows last night. The first came in West Virginia where they had hoped Republicans would nominate weirdo candidate Don Blankenship. By a wide margin, it didn’t happen.

But the other hit came in Indiana where a brutal Republican primary saw political outsider and successful businessman Mike Braun upset two sitting Republican Congressmen, Todd Rokita and Luke Messer. All three men ran as conservatives supporting President Trump’s legislative agenda, but only Braun had the benefit of the anti-establishment label.

And that’s what spells trouble for Democrats. Incumbent Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly is not nearly as formidable as it might seem for someone who has been a fixture in DC for 12 years. In fact, his lengthy tenure in Washington has been a series of fortunate breaks, beginning with a notoriously gerrymandered district that kept him in the House of Representatives for 6 years.

When the district lines were redrawn to be more politically balanced, Donnelly was certain to lose to current Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. So he bailed. And to save face and perhaps a political future, he accepted the roll as sacrificial lamb of his party to face Indiana’s legendary Senate titan Richard Lugar in 2012. But that year, the Tea Party toppled Lugar in a shocking primary contest against Richard Mourdock. In the general election, Donnelly’s classless exploitation of Mourdock’s singular gaffe during a debate helped propel him into the improbable victory where he has been for the last six years.

The ability to run against an entrenched Washington Congressman with a long voting record to spin was what the Donnelly campaign was certainly anticipating. Now, they get something completely different. State political watchers think it spells trouble for Donnelly:

There certainly won't be panic in the Donnelly camp. The senator and his team are much too experienced for that. But there should be concern.

After all, in the most recent statewide election — only two years ago — Trump won Indiana by 19 percentage points. Todd Young knocked off an Indiana political legend, Evan Bayh, by nearly 10 points for an open Senate seat.

In Braun, Donnelly faces a more difficult match-up than he would have encountered with either Messer or Rokita. Braun has shown that he's a disciplined communicator who wears the outsider image well. And he definitely won't shy from a fight.

Thursday, both President Trump and Vice President Pence will be in the state to stump for Braun’s candidacy. With deep pockets, no voting record, party support, a right-leaning, Trump-supporting state, and the benefit of being the outsider taking on an inner-DC fixture for over a decade, Republican Mike Braun is in good shape heading into November.

Flipping that seat from Democrat to Republican probably means any hope of elevating Chuck Schumer into Senate Majority Leader is history.

Comments
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mlindroos
mlindroos

It's ridiculous of Heck to start "measuring the drapes" already at this stage.

The Democratic incumbents will survive regardless of who the nominee is, if the national climate in November is sufficiently anti-Republican. This is what happened in 2006, for example.

As for last night, note that three incumbent GOP state senators also lost in West Virginia, which (coupled with the aftershocks of the teachers' strikes) might hint at Republican dissatisfaction. Note, also, that Joe Manchin's opponent is a former D.C. lobbyist for major pharmaceutical companies who have played a major role in the state's opioid crisis. He ran against a similar type of GOP "big business" candidate in 2010 & 2012 (when Manchin's mantra was Mitt Romney's Republican party does not understand the "challenges facing ordinary people")

Dave_A
Dave_A

Ignoring the fact that Braun is a Democrat running under the GOP label...

So they kind of win in Indiana either way...

sjwrick
sjwrick
(deleted message)

So what's the deal with the crude, no contribution comments? If you have a position give argument and accept/welcome the rejoinder, then support your position. You are just driving more wedges between parties that need to find common ground and understanding. You want others to just dismiss everything you have to say? You want the "opposition" to just think you are crass, worthless and argumentative. What's the point?

sjwrick
sjwrick

Thanks for the background on these races Peter. Forgot about the Evan Bayh loss.

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