Businessman Braun defeats Sen. Joe Donnelly

Republican Mike Braun celebrates with his wife, Maureen, during an election night party Tuesday in Indianapolis. Braun defeated Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.


The White River Ballroom at the JW Marriott slowly filled Tuesday evening with Republican Party supporters, all eating and drinking, chatting robustly, mingling around the room.

Two huge TV screens showed different stations — cable channel Fox News and Indianapolis television station WRTV6, an ABC affiliate.

The two stations were broadcasting the contested races in the day’s election. The crowd was watching for Indiana’s statewide races, with the state’s U.S. Senate seat in the forefront.

Two hours later, those stations, and all news outlets, called the Senate race for Jasper businessman Mike Braun.

And about 40 minutes later, the U.S. Senator-elect addressed the crowd, his wife by his side, with his children, two grandchildren, Gov. Eric Holcomb, State Sen. Todd Young and other Republican dignitaries standing behind him.

“What a journey this has been,” Braun declared, to crowd’s cheers. “I’ve made so many friends in these months of campaigning. I want to thank all Hoosiers. I will not let you down.”

Nic Antaya/The Herald
Donna Deer of Carmel poses for a portrait during the Indiana GOP Election Night Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis on Tuesday. "Donnely's in there for the perks, Braun's in there for the people," Deer said.

Braun defeated Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly to claim the seat. Donnelly had conceded the race and called Braun to congratulate him, which Braun accepted.

As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, with 84 percent of the precincts in Indiana having been tallied, the Associated Press reported that Braun was in the lead with 52.7 percent of the votes to Donnelly’s 43.3 percent and Libertarian Lucy Brenton’s 4 percent.

Braun acknowledged the people who came to the state GOP’s celebration from Dubois County, including Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz and his wife, Deena Lewis; Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner and his wife, Shari, and OFS head Hank Menke. He also thanked his family, friends, colleagues and campaign staff.

“(There are) so many people to thank. But it starts right here, with my dear wife,” Braun said. “We made a big decision many, many years ago to come back to our hometown. And that wasn’t typical, back in 1978. We did it because we wanted to raise a family, we wanted to have a chance to start our own businesses. It was a very simple plan, and by golly it worked out.”

He then turned to Maureen. “Truly, dear,” he said, “we’ve lived the American dream.”

He indicated that he is now ready to get down to business.

“We as conservatives, being led by President [Donald] Trump, we‘ve got to prove, by our way of thinking, why what works in Indiana is going to work for the rest of America,” Braun said. And I really believe I can weigh in on that argument.

In the 15 months Braun campaigned for the seat, he noticed that as time went on, the campaigning between him and Donnelly consistently turned negative. He acknowledged that negativity.

“It’s gotten way too nasty on both sides,” he said. “It should be about ideas, what you bring to the table. Both sides and their families have had to carry that weight. I hope that changes down the road.”

Nic Antaya/The Herald
Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz, left, and his wife, Deena Lewis, celebrate as they watch results come in during the Indiana GOP Election Night Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

He told the group that he was ready to take the values he has learned in Indiana to the U.S. Capitol.

“The theme of my campaign is that we need to take to Washington what works in the real world,” he said. “What works in Jasper, Indiana, what works in Warsaw, Indiana, what works in this great state, where we lead by our performance.”

He pledged that he will work hard for the people he represents.

“We have a narrow window,” Braun said. “We have two years to show that as conservatives, we can make things work, and we have to get our president re-elected

“I’m going to make you proud of me as your next senator of Indiana,” he told the group, who continued to cheer for him.



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