Senator Donnelly visits Seymour


United States Senator Joe Donnelly made a campaign stop Friday afternoon in Seymour to greet local Democrats, candidates and members of the public.

Donnelly slurped a vanilla milkshake as he made his way around a full Chillicen restaurant on Chestnut Street to discuss issues.

He previously made a stop in Columbus and was en route to the Madison Regatta Parade as part of a visit to counties across the state.

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“I try to hit all 92 counties on a constant basis, Jackson County is important to us,” he said, acknowledging population growth and skilled labor jobs in the area. “I wanted to be here to say hello to everybody; to tell everybody how important every vote in Jackson County is.”

Donnelly will face Jasper businessman and former state representative Mike Braun, a Republican, in the Nov. 6 general election. He is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats running for reelection in the country as Republicans try to maintain and extend their slight majority in the United States Senate.

He said the campaign will likely feature an array of issues including jobs, veterans affairs, ending the opioid crisis, strengthening the U.S. Military and economy, healthcare and more.

Among those issues will be the battle between Republicans and Democrats approving President Donald J. Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the court. Kennedy will retire at the end of the month.

Trump tweeted last week that he had interviewed several candidates and plans to announce his nomination today. Donnelly was one of three Democrats in the Senate to approve Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, also appointed by Trump, to the nation’s highest court in 2017.

Donnelly said he will review the nominee’s record and judicial decisions — if the nominee is a judge or former judge — and other legal writings.

“I’m going to try to get an idea of their point of view, legally, and from that, make a decision,” he said. Donnelly also pledged to make a decision that is “reflective of our state, which is moderate and common sense.”

Conservative activists see the nomination as an opportunity to stack the court in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that lifted the criminalization of abortion, and other causes. Kennedy was often a moderate voice on the court, upholding decisions on abortion, healthcare and gay marriage.

Donnelly, described as a moderate on abortion by the The Associated Press, said he will consider a nominee’s record on a multitude of issues.

“There is a lot of different issues to look at and a potential justice will be viewed on the body of all of their work,” he said.

Although he didn’t discuss his stance on abortion, Donnelly’s campaign manager, Peter Hanscom, said Donnelly was pro-life, but supports abortion in cases or rape, incest and the health of the mother.

Donnelly said he doesn’t think the nomination changes the complexion of the race.

“I don’t think so, it’s just part of the job that I’ve been blessed to have the chance to do,” he said. “l look forward to the chance to work on this.”

Other issues Donnelly said he anticipates is healthcare after the Trump Administration filed a lawsuit to contest coverage of preexisting conditions, a central provision included in the Affordable Care Act passed in March 2010.

“Preexisting conditions is a just a fancy term for asthma, diabetes, arthritis and I will fight nonstop to make sure families will still have healthcare coverage at an affordable price,” he said.

No matter the issue Congress takes up, Donnelly said he will be guided by how it will impact the next generation.

“I want to make our country even stronger and better for the next generation than it is for us,” he said. “Every policy we put in place is designed to make us better and stronger.”

Luke Turner, 16, attended Friday’s event and said he was thankful for the opportunity to share his thoughts on the issues with Donnelly.

“I think it’s important, regardless of the party, that people listen to their constituents and allow them to tell him what they think about the issues,” he said.

Turner will be a junior at Seymour High School this fall and said he has been volunteering for state Democratic candidates and Donnelly’s campaign.

“I’m trying to be as involved as I can and there’s no better time to be in politics and bring change than now,” he said.

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