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CNN projection: Braun elected to US Senate

CNN projects that Indiana voters will elect Republican Mike Braun to the US Senate, defeating incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly .

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 10:45 AM
Updated: Nov 7, 2018 10:57 AM

Republican Mike Braun will defeat Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana, CNN projects, giving Republicans a major pick-up to bolster their Senate majority in a state President Donald Trump won handily two years earlier.

First elected to the Senate in 2012, Donnelly spent his first six years aware he'd be among the top Republican targets in his bid for re-election.

Donnelly had won the seat in 2012 with a healthy dose of luck, following a series of Republican errors. A tea party primary had purged six-term Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, replacing him on the ballot with controversial state treasurer Richard Mourdock. Then, Mourdock stumbled just two weeks from Election Day, calling pregnancies resulting from rape "something that God intended to happen" -- a comment that led then-presidential nominee Mitt Romney to distance himself from Mourdock and all but cemented Donnelly's victory.

Trump's 19 percentage point victory in Indiana underscored just how difficult the state would be for a Democrat to hold in 2018.

And two Republican congressmen, Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, spent years angling to run against Donnelly.

But Braun, a little-known former state representative and owner of an auto parts distributorship with millions of his own dollars to spend, ran a masterful primary campaign. He offered himself as a straight-talking alternative and cast Messer and Rokita as ambitious politicians who even looked alike. For a television ad, he carried around cardboard cutouts of the two and asked voters if they knew which one was which.

Outspending both of his opponents, Braun won the primary.

The general election turned into a battle over trade, with both candidates accusing the other of outsourcing jobs and wages.

Republicans attempted to brand Donnelly as "Mexico Joe" after The Associated Press reported that Donnelly owned stock in a business that had a factory in Mexico. Donnelly sold the stock. Braun, meanwhile, was attacked for sourcing many of the auto parts his business sells from China.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, the former Indiana governor, each made several visits to the state to campaign for Braun. Trump branded Donnelly "Sleepy Joe."

Donnelly sought to portray himself as a centrist, often praising Trump and highlighting moments at which he had broken from Democratic leadership in the Senate.

Braun, meanwhile, leaned into Indiana's Republican-heavy makeup, airing ads attacking Donnelly for voting against Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination and for endorsing Hillary Clinton in 2016.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 149166

Reported Deaths: 3960
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24564781
Lake13079350
St. Joseph8788157
Elkhart8371132
Allen7815221
Hamilton5923113
Vanderburgh553050
Tippecanoe350914
Monroe319438
Hendricks3140130
Johnson2972127
Porter293248
Clark282157
Delaware279674
Vigo248837
Madison226991
Cass221020
LaPorte213057
Warrick186563
Kosciusko173121
Floyd172766
Howard157466
Bartholomew138657
Dubois133724
Marshall130626
Henry121828
Boone118648
Grant118039
Wayne117123
Hancock114144
Noble111333
Jackson107412
Morgan91540
Dearborn90328
Daviess83732
Gibson82611
Clinton81316
Shelby78329
Lawrence77832
LaGrange76615
Harrison73324
Knox69610
Putnam69515
DeKalb68611
Posey6745
Steuben5888
Miami5765
Fayette57515
Montgomery56422
White56215
Jasper5464
Greene51237
Scott50613
Decatur49439
Adams4645
Whitley4316
Clay4276
Sullivan42412
Ripley4178
Wells4125
Orange38624
Wabash3859
Starke3847
Huntington3695
Spencer3686
Franklin36325
Jennings35913
Washington3512
Randolph3378
Fulton3292
Jefferson3285
Pike31612
Carroll30813
Perry28914
Jay2816
Fountain2743
Tipton26623
Parke2182
Newton21111
Vermillion2111
Rush2034
Owen1991
Martin1950
Blackford1903
Crawford1481
Pulaski1431
Brown1283
Ohio1187
Benton1070
Union1020
Switzerland840
Warren731
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