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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 1:30 pm

Indiana Republicans still split on Democrat Donnelly

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

A half-dozen speakers at the local Republican Party's fall dinner spent much of their time bashing a single Democrat.

The event's keynote speaker, the Indiana GOP chairman, a radio talk show host and three prospective U.S. Senate candidates all heaped criticism on Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., during the Allen County GOP's annual Reagan Bean Dinner Monday at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Conference Center.

Donnelly made for an easy target. He is the Indiana Democratic Party's only statewide officeholder and will stand for re-election next year at a time when Republicans will be trying to cling to their narrow majority in the Senate.

Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th, a candidate for the state's GOP Senate nomination, led the partisan dinner audience in a chant of "Joe must go." 

But Hoosier Republicans helped elect the politically moderate Donnelly in 2012. And they might do so again in 2018, according to one of his potential rivals.

"When I travel the state, and there's Republicans that come to me and say, 'Andrew, I don't know who our nominee's going to be, but I'm thinking about voting for Joe Donnelly.' That's a problem," Andrew Takami, a New Albany college administrator who seeks the GOP Senate nomination, told 350 people at the Reagan Bean Dinner.

"I'm hearing it more and more," Takami said, adding that Republicans must nominate "the right candidate against Joe Donnelly, or else people may say there's no choice." Takami did not elaborate on what qualities "the right candidate" should have.

As previously reported, results of a Morning Consult poll released in August found that 55 percent of nearly 1,200 Indiana Republican voters who were surveyed in the spring said they approved of Donnelly as their senator.