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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, August 29, 2018 12:40 pm

State Chamber skips endorsement in U.S. Senate contest

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is not endorsing a candidate in this year's U.S. Senate race.

None of the candidates in the Nov. 6 general election – Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, Republican Mike Braun and Libertarian Lucy Brenton – was included on the list of endorsed federal and state legislative candidates the Indiana Chamber released this week.

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar told the Indianapolis Star on Tuesday that the organization's Congressional Affairs Committee found Donnelly and Braun each had "good alignment with Indiana Chamber efforts, but also notable areas of disagreement. Therefore, the decision reached was to remain neutral and make no endorsement in this race."

Braun, a former state lawmaker who owns auto parts distribution companies and timber ground, is an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump and his policies. The Indiana Chamber supported Trump's tax cuts approved last year by Congress but has opposed his trade tariffs.  

Donnelly, a senator since 2013, was a lawyer and small-business operator before he was elected to the U.S. House in 2006. The Indiana Chamber had endorsed his Republican opponents in the 2012 Senate election and the 2010 House election; it also endorsed GOP candidates for the state's other Senate seat in the 2010 and 2016 general elections.

The Indiana Chamber announced Monday it had endorsed seven Republican congressional candidates, including two who represent northeast Indiana: Reps. Jim Banks, R-3rd, and Jackie Walorski, R-2nd. It made no endorsements in the 1st and 7th districts, which are Democratic strongholds.

Among Indiana General Assembly candidates from northeast Indiana, the organization endorsed Republican Sens. Liz Brown of Fort Wayne, Dennis Kruse of Auburn, Andy Zay of Huntington and Travis Holdman of Markle; Republican Reps. Martin Carbaugh of Fort Wayne, Bob Morris of Fort Wayne, Dave Heine of New Haven, Chris Judy of Fort Wayne, Matt Lehman of Berne, Dan Leonard of Huntington, Ben Smaltz of Auburn, Dennis Zent of Angola and David Wolkins of Warsaw; and Democratic Rep. Phil GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne.