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Senate hopefuls differ greatly on surrogates

Their choice of campaign surrogates is among the contrasts between U.S. Senate candidates Joe Donnelly and Richard Mourdock.

Donnelly’s wife, Jill, and an adult daughter, Molly, campaigned Monday for the Democratic nominee in Fort Wayne, South Bend and Rochester.

“We thought it was an opportunity to see the personal side Joe comes from,” Jill Donnelly said during lunch with seven local women at the downtown restaurant, J.K. O’Donnell’s.

Meanwhile, Mourdock’s campaign announced that a bevy of Republican officeholders will stump for the state treasurer in coming weeks: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona.

“We’re going to have a full month of momentum,” said Brose McVey, deputy campaign manager for Mourdock, during a telephone interview.

Mourdock’s wife, Marilyn, has kept a low profile. She did appear in media photographs the night Mourdock defeated Sen. Richard Lugar in the Republican primary election. Mourdock campaign spokesman Chris Conner said in an email that, “when feasible she will join him on the campaign trail.” Conner said she prefers grass-roots rallies.

Mourdock has had no shortage of GOP companions at campaign stops and fundraisers, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Sens. Dan Coats of Indiana, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Marco Rubio of Florida and John Thune of South Dakota.

Rep. Donnelly, D-2nd, has enlisted two Democratic congressmen to tout his candidacy: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota. Evan Bayh, a former U.S. senator and governor for Indiana, also has made public appearances with Donnelly.

But Donnelly’s wife attends many campaign events.

“I travel with Joe a lot, listen to people, have discussions on so many issues important to our country,” Jill Donnelly, 58, said Monday. She works in alumni relations and development for the University of Notre Dame Law School.

Molly Donnelly, 30, a prosecuting attorney in Chicago, acknowledged she is biased when she praised her father’s, “patience, his ability to listen. … Working with whoever and however to help people.”

Donnelly and Mourdock will have the first of two televised debates at 7 p.m. Monday in Indianapolis. The second will be in New Albany on Oct. 23.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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