INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTTV) – Republicans successfully flipped a key seat in the U.S. Senate, with Republican Mike Braun defeating Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in a hotly contested race.
Several news organizations called the race in Braun’s favor with about 50% of precincts reporting in, including FOX News, CBS News, ABC News and NBC News.
Donnelly was considered one of the most vulnerable seats in the country. And Braun’s campaign brought in the big guns, with President Donald Trump visiting the Hoosier State multiple times to support his candidacy.
Rallies in Southport and Fort Wayne in the days before the election drew large crowds. And while Donnelly campaigned vigorously, it wasn’t enough to keep his seat in a traditionally red state.
"What a journey this has been," Braun said in his victory speech.
He recalled that people thought he was "crazy" for running for the House. He said his wife was his greatest supporter.
"Truly, dear, we've lived the American Dream. We really have," Braun said.
Over the 15 months of his campaign, Braun said he didn't have to stay in a hotel but four or five times because people welcomed him into their homes for the night.
"Just like any competition, you fight hard, you want to win," Braun said. "The one thing I'd like to see change in politics: it's gotten way too nasty on both sides."
Braun said both he and Donnelly's families had to carry "the weight" of the negative campaigning, which took a toll. He pledged to bring some commonsense to Washington.
"We need to take to Washington what works in the real world. What works in Jasper, Indiana. What works in Warsaw, Indiana," Braun said. "What we're gonna do is get real people from the real world who can fix things in a dysfunctional system."
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders touted Braun’s win, saying the support of President Trump made a difference. A "good night for the president," she said. Braun bore that out during his speech, recounting how he met the president four times during his campaign.
"I'll never forget, and Todd Young was with me, when [President Trump] said, 'You think we ought to bring Bobby Knight to the rally?'" Braun recalled. "It could only happen in America and in Indiana, when you're with the president, the vice president and Bobby Knight on the same stage."
Donnelly conceded the race around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, saying he'd called Braun to congratulate him on the win. He offered to do anything he could to ensure a smooth transition.
"I just want to tell you how grateful I am to all of you for the unbelievable opportunity to serve the people of Indiana," Donnelly told supporters. "We had the chance to serve everyone across our state, with healthcare and so many good things, and the people of our state are so wonderful.
"If there's anything I can ever do for you, count on me," Donnelly said. "We want to bring our country together rather than divide it."
Donnelly also released a statement:
"A few minutes ago, I called Mike Braun and congratulated him on winning a hard-fought race. I’d like to thank every single American who believed in this campaign and worked to make it successful, and every Hoosier whom I have come across over the last six years who helped me to better serve my state. It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to represent Indiana in the Senate. I wish Mike the best, and I hope he makes every single Hoosier proud as our senator."
Sen. Todd Young released a statement:
“Hoosiers have spoken, and they have elected Mike Braun to join me in the United States Senate. I congratulate Mike on his election, and I look forward to working together to continue moving America forward. Whether we’re confirming judges, or advancing policies that have our economy booming, Mike Braun will be an excellent partner in the fight for Hoosier priorities.
“I would also like to thank Joe Donnelly for his years of service to the people of Indiana. We have always enjoyed a positive and productive relationship, and I thank him for his dedication to our great state.”
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb issued this statement:
“Congratulations to Mike Braun, Indiana’s next U.S. Senator. I’ve always said that we need more Indiana in Washington, and that’s exactly what we’re getting with Mike Braun. Mike Braun understands the 28 words of the 10th Amendment. He’s built a homegrown Indiana business and served at the Statehouse. He knows a thing or two about Hoosier solutions – and he’ll take those solutions with him Washington.”