Indiana: Pro-Obamacare Democrat Joe Donnelly Runs for Senate

State   |   Andrew Bair   |   May 10, 2011   |   3:30PM   |   Indianapolis, IN

Democrats scored a recruiting victory in the Indiana Senate race yesterday when Representative Joe Donnelly officially entered the race. However, Donnelly has a mixed record on abortion.

Donnelly voted for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, to defund Planned Parenthood and in favor of the pro-life Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which would have prevented abortion funding under Obamacare. However, Donnelly let pro-life advocates down when he voted for the Senate version of the health care bill, which did not include the pro-life provisions of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. In doing so, Donnelly supported a bill, which constitutes the largest expansion of abortion since Roe vs. Wade and which poses a grave threat of rationing for the elderly and those with disabilities.

Donnelly narrowly held onto his House seat in 2010 when he defeated pro-life Republican Jackie Walorski by barely one percentage point. With Republican-directed redistricting efforts underway in Indiana, Donnelly’s district may be redrawn to include more Republican voters, giving a Republican candidate the edge in 2012. Jackie Walorski (R) announced in March she will once again make a run for the seat. No Democrats have yet announced their intentions to run.

While Democrats may have been successful in recruiting their ideal candidate in Rep. Donnelly, the race for the Indiana Senate seat remains favorable to Republicans. Incumbent Senator Dick Lugar has already announced his intention to run for a seventh term. Lugar currently faces a tough fight to earn his party’s nomination. Pro-life State Treasurer Richard Mourdock has already officially pledged a primary challenge. Lugar’s own pro-life weaknesses open the door for the success of a Mourdock candidacy.

While Senator Lugar supports protecting unborn children from abortion, he does not support protecting them from embryonic stem cell research. Lugar voted for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, which attempted to overturn President George W. Bush’s ban on stem cell research that requires the destruction of human embryos.

Lugar also gives pause to many in the pro-life community for his support of President Obama’s pro-abortion Supreme Court nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Even before Sotomayor’s nomination made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lugar announced he would vote to confirm her to the Supreme Court. A year later, Senator Lugar was quick to throw his support behind Elena Kagan. Lugar was the first Republican not on the Judiciary Committee to announce his support for Kagan’s nomination.

Richard Mourdock was quick to criticize Lugar for these positions and has already earned the support of top Indiana Republican Party leaders. Governor Mitch Daniels, who spent five years as Senator Lugar’s chief of staff, is currently remaining neutral in the race. In addition, pro-life hero and 2012 gubernatorial candidate Rep. Mike Pence is remaining neutral. Reading between the lines, it is clear Lugar’s political support is waning.