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Democrat Joe Donnelly Beats Republican Jackie Walorski for Indiana House Seat

4 years ago
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Rep. Joe Donnelly, an incumbent Democrat, has edged out his GOP challenger, State Rep. Jackie Walorski, to win re-election in Indiana's 2nd Congressional District. The race between the two candidates was decided in large part by the third party candidate, Libertarian Mark Vogel. Donnelly won with 48.2 percent of the vote, while Malorski came in with 46.8 percent and Vogel got 5.0 percent.

Pundits on both sides of the aisle had been watching the race as a bellweather for the Demsocrats' chances against a strong GOP wave this election season: sophomore lawmaker Donnelly won re-election in 2008 with 67 percent of the vote, but Walorski posed a major challenge in what Politics Daily's Melinda Henneberger called "the purple-est of swing districts" in the Hoosier state.

Both candidates held strong pro-life, pro-gun positions and were, in large part, running against the Pelosi legislative legacy -- the major difference between the two being that Donnelly was, in fact, a Democrat -- and one who voted in favor of health care reform legislation.

Walorski, for her part, received help from some of the biggest names in her party: Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and John Boehner all appeared at events with Walorski -- a local firefighter's daughter who at one time performed Christian relief work in Romania. (Sarah Palin even endorsed Walorski on her Facebook page).

Donnelly, a lawyer and small business owner, ran ads critical of the Democratic Party -- which wasn't even mentioned in a campaign brochure touting his independence. For this independence, Donnelly paid a certain price -- with no strong party affiliation, his campaign suffered from a lack of high-profile endorsements and risked alienation by Democratic voters (actually) proud of what their party had accomplished in Congress. In the end, however, Blue Dog Donnelly's party agnosticism -- not to mention that late-breaking bump from a third party candidate -- proved just enough to keep him in office.

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