Donnelly bid gets boost from Democrats
Luminaries such as Joe Biden campaign for U.S. senator
A Colorado senator lauded Sen. Joe Donnelly’s work in Washington, a sentiment shared by a string of Democrats aiding his re-election bid during recent visits to Lake County.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., rallied support for Donnelly and down-ballot candidates Thursday at a Lake County Democratic Central Committee fundraiser in Merrillville. Party officials say national political figures, including an Oct. 12 Hammond visit by former Vice President Joe Biden, want to help Donnelly win re-election and know he plays an important role in Washington, D.C.
“I’m here because I love Joe Donnelly,” Bennet said.
The Colorado senator’s visit was one in a series of national politicians campaigning in Indiana in the closely watched race between Donnelly, Republican Mike Braun and Libertarian Lucy Brenton.
Biden, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., and Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, have all stumped for Donnelly in Northwest Indiana within the last month.
The same night Biden spoke in Hammond, Vice President Mike Pence rallied Republican supporters in Indianapolis for Braun. President Donald Trump has twice visited Indiana to support Braun’s challenge. Braun has not had any high-profile events in Lake or Porter counties this fall.
Bennet said every election is a chance for voters to renew their faith in the values of the Founding Fathers or take a step back.
There are two types of politicians, Bennett said, the people who get elected and think the job is about them or those who go into an office working for the people. Bennet said Donnelly works for the people of Indiana.
“He is the example for the rest of us,” Bennet said.
This election season, there’s
discussion about working across the aisle to get things done in Congress, Bennet said, but many don’t want to do that. Donnelly knows how to talk to his Republican counterparts, Bennet said.
“That’s why we need him now more than ever,” Bennet said. “We need to send Joe Donnelly back to the U.S. Senate where he belongs.”
Donnelly said his friends and colleagues in Washington want to help his re-election bid, and see that people have access to good health care, continued job growth and protect the troops.
“My friends said, ‘Look, we want to help you in these efforts,’ ” Donnelly said.
He said he was one of the deciding votes to keep protections for pre-existing conditions in the Affordable Care Act, a vote that Braun has used against the incumbent senator.
Donnelly said his vote wasn’t about a political party but the kid in Lake Station with asthma and the woman in Crown Point with arthritis.
“We are Democrats be- cause we care about people,” Donnelly said.
Jim Wieser, chairman of the Lake County Democratic Central Committee, said he thinks the reason many of his congressional colleagues are helping Donnelly is that he’s known as a good and decent person. Wieser said that Kennedy said just that about Donnelly during his visit.
“I think that resonates with the leadership in Washington,” Wieser said.
The former vice president last Friday said the Republicans controlling Congress have lost their way, and they no longer are putting their ideals and beliefs ahead of partisan politics.
“Joe has more character in his little finger than a vast majority of men and women I’ve worked with in my whole career,” Biden said, during the Hammond rally. “Joe is as good a man as I know.”
Wieser said the Demo- cratic Party understands the need to get voters excited about the election, and Donnelly previously won Lake County with 70 percent of the vote.
Biden, Kennedy, Perez and Bennet meeting with people in Lake County helps get them active, Wieser said.
“This is where this election gets done — right here in Lake County,” Donnelly said.
U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly greet supporters during a Democratic fundraiser Thursday at the Hellenic Cultural Center in Merrillville.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., speaks during a Democratic fundraiser Thursday at the Hellenic Cultural Center in Merrillville.