Politics of Indiana Senate race could be impacted by Supreme Court nominee

Supreme Court nominee could impact politics of Indiana senate race
Indiana State Senate Republican candidate Mike Braun. (Source: Braun campaign)
Indiana State Senate Republican candidate Mike Braun. (Source: Braun campaign)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court Justice may force some red state Democrats into a tough political decision.

Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly is gearing up for what some are anticipating will be a close election against Republican nominee Mike Braun.

"I work for the people of Indiana and I want them to have a voice in this," Donnelly said, in relation to confirming the next Supreme Court justice.

While that line from Donnelly sounds simple enough, the politics he faces satisfying Hoosiers may be a little more difficult to navigate.

"The problem is, it's going to hurt their election chances if they vote with their party, but they're going to hurt the Democrats' chance of thwarting this nomination if they don't," Joe Wert, a professor of political science at Indiana University Southeast, said.

In 2012, Donnelly beat out Richard Mourdock by about six percent of the vote in a state that Donald Trump took in 2016 by around 20 points.

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Wert said another close election is expected in November against Republican nominee Mike Braun, which Wert said might prompt Donnelly to cast a wider net, appealing to a larger, more conservative group of voters.

"He has shown himself willing to -- he has to in order to survive --b willing to vote the more conservative line from time to time," Wert said.

Donnelley was one of just a few Democratic senators who voted to approve President Trump's Gorsuch nomination.

"When I reviewed his court decisions, I became comfortable that he wasn't extreme one way or the other," Donnelly said.

After the Kavanaugh announcement was made, Donnelly released a statement saying he will take the same approach as he previously has for a Supreme Court vacancy.

The statement added that he's met with President Trump and will carefully review and consider the record and qualifications of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Braun has posted on Facebook that Americans need a strong constitutionalist like Kavanaugh in office, even offering a petition in support on his campaign website.

"With a high profile vote like this so close to the election its either going to help his chances a little bit or harm his chances a little bit," Wert said, about Donnelly's chances in November related to the nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes to have Kavanaugh confirmed by October, before the General Election.

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