Indiana’s U.S. Senate race appears close


Philip Wegmann describes Indiana’s U.S. Senate race as a battle of centrists.

“The Democrat supports a border wall, and the Republican supports protections for pre-existing conditions,” he wrote in the Washington Examiner.

Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly says he’d fund the wall in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants who arrived in this country as children.

“This puts Donnelly out of the Democratic mainstream and in a strong spot to keep his seat,” Wegmann wrote.

The situation is similar, he said, with Republican Mike Braun and health care.

“He wants to repeal Obamacare like the rest of his party,” Wegmann wrote. “He doesn’t want to end protections for pre-existing conditions, though, like some of his colleagues.”

Not all of the candidates’ positions are moderate.

In discussing health care, Donnelly sounds almost like Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont who mounted an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2016.

“Joe believes that in the richest country on earth, every citizen deserves access to quality, affordable health care,” Donnelly’s campaign website says. “For years, he has said that Republicans and Democrats should work together to improve our health care system and expand access, but we can’t rely on partisan efforts that undermine the system and move it backward.”

On the issue of trade, however, Donnelly sounds more like the president.

“Indiana workers are the best in the world, and on a level playing field, they can compete with anyone,” his campaign website says. “But years of unfair trade deals have enabled corporations to ship good-paying jobs to foreign countries while flooding American markets with cheap foreign goods.”

The website calls for “policies designed to prevent the system from becoming rigged and keep good-paying manufacturing jobs here at home.”

Braun says he stands behind the president on every issue. He casts himself as a businessman, not a politician, and he pledges to support the president’s efforts to “drain the swamp.”

“If you’re happy with the federal government, then you’ve got plenty of career politicians to choose among,” he said during a recent tour of a Suburu plant in Lafayette. “If you want to see something different, give a chance to people who have done it in the real world.”

Both candidates describe themselves as pro-life. Braun’s stance is absolute. Donnelly’s is more nuanced.

“I’m 100 percent pro-life,” Braun told The Indianapolis Star. “I believe that every effort should be made to honor and protect life. When you get into the particulars, I’m generally going to be on record always that sanctity of life is very important to me.”

Donnelly makes room for exceptions.

“One thing that’s absolutely critical and at the center of everything is respecting and protecting the life of the mom,” he told The Star. “That’s why I support exceptions for rape and incest and for the life of the mother. To me, that’s really critical.”

The two also disagree on funding for Planned Parenthood. Donnelly supports it. Braun does not.

The election looks to be close.

An Ipsos Public Affairs poll found Donnelly leading 46 percent to 43 percent. A margin of error of 2.5 percentage points makes the race a toss-up.

“It really is going to be dependent on who shows up on Election Day,” the polling firm’s Chris Jackson told The Star.

And if the election turns into a referendum on the president? Well, that’s a toss-up, too.

The same survey found 48 percent of respondents looking for a candidate who backed the president and 47 percent looking for a candidate who opposed him.

We’re a divided country, Jackson said. This race is no exception.

Kelly Hawes is a columnist for CNHI and a former president of the Society of Professional Journalists. Send comments to awoods@

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