More than $51 million was spent on the race for the Senate seat he now holds. His opponent, conservative Republican Richard Mourdock, turned the race unexpectedly competitive with a remark about abortion, rape and God during a debate in the last weeks of the campaign.
It was Mourdock who upset conventional wisdom when he beat longtime U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar in the May primary, capitalizing on the perception that Lugar, a revered elder statesman on the global stage, had lost touch with common Hoosiers. Unlike Mourdock, who traveled the state attending the local Lincoln Day fundraising dinners that are patronized by GOP loyalists, Lugar was an infrequent visitor to Indiana as his tenure went on.
In Donnelly’s spacious Senate office, on the seventh floor of the Hart Office Building, which is just down the street from the majestic Capitol Building, there’s a sign perched prominently on a bookcase shelf that reads: Hoosier Common Sense.
To Donnelly, it’s a reminder of home and what he calls the “wisdom” in Indiana that seems missing in Washington, D.C. But it’s also a reminder that Hoosiers still like their senators to have the common touch.
Columns by Maureen Hayden, Statehouse bureau chief for CNHI’s Indiana newspapers, appear Mondays in The Herald Bulletin. She can be reached at Maureen.email@example.com.