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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Democratic Senate candidate Joe Donnelly, center, and former Sen. Evan Bayh tour Paint the Town Graphics with co-owner Wendy Brown on Thursday while visiting Fort Wayne.

Donnelly, Bayh stop in city

Tour small business to praise Lugar-style bipartisan teamwork

– U.S. Senate candidate Joe Donnelly campaigned Thursday like it was 1999.

Rep. Donnelly, D-2nd, spent a second straight day with former Democratic senator Evan Bayh at his side. In Fort Wayne, they talked about the need for bipartisan cooperation in Washington, invoking Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., as a model.

“Sen. Bayh and Sen. Lugar are always such a great example of the Hoosier way, which is common sense, which is working together, focusing on what’s best for our country,” Donnelly said during a visit to Paint the Town Graphics on West Main Street as part of his and Bayh’s “Main Street Tour” of five cities in two days.

Bayh was in the Senate from 1999 through 2010. Lugar has been a senator since 1977 but was defeated in the May 8 Republican primary by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

Bayh said that of those senators who were from the same state but different political parties, he and Lugar, “had voting records more alike than anybody else because we knew we were there to represent the same people, not just the political parties.”

“We need more practical problem-solvers in Washington,” Bayh said about Donnelly. “Enough with the food fight already.”

Republicans control the House, and Democrats hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate.

Thirty-three Senate seats, including Lugar’s, are on Nov. 6 ballots.

The day after his primary-election victory, Mourdock told The Journal Gazette, “The bipartisanship that we’ve had the last few years has taken us to the brink of bankruptcy.”

But Bayh claimed Thursday that the stalemate in Congress over expiring tax cuts and automatic budget reductions “is the result of the extremism in Washington.”

“To solve that issue, what do you want, more extremists?” he asked. “Or do you want people who will actually work together to create practical solutions and get the job done? I think pretty clearly it has to be the latter, and that’s the approach Joe Donnelly will take.”

Mourdock’s campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have responded to the Donnelly-Bayh joint appearances by pointing out both voted for President Bush’s Wall Street bailout, President Obama’s health care law and economic stimulus package and legislation to raise the nation’s borrowing limit – “positions at odds with the views and interests of most Hoosiers,” Brose McVey, deputy campaign manger for Mourdock, said in an email.

The co-owners of Paint the Town Graphics, which employs 14 people, said they had no connection to Donnelly’s campaign before his visit Thursday.

“They called me out of the blue” to arrange a tour and news conference, co-owner Wendy Brown said.

Donnelly formerly owned a printing shop in Mishawaka.

“Small businesses are the heartbeat of America,” he said.