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IN THE NEWS: Joe Donnelly “in [the] driver’s seat” as Senate race focuses back on health care, Howey Politics says

The distractions are clearing away, and Joe Donnelly is still in the “driver’s seat” of a Senate campaign poised to end up focusing on his core issues, Howey Politics said yesterday in its race analysis.

As fights like the Supreme Court confirmation and tax reform fade into the rear view mirror, the race has focused back on its long running central issue: health care, where Joe’s efforts to protect coverage for the 1.1 million Hoosiers under 65 with pre-existing conditions resonate with voters. Entering the home stretch with a sizable cash on hand advantage and control of the key issue, it seems to Brian Howey that Joe is the candidate who’s leading the way.

From Howey Politics Indiana: HPI Analysis: Donnelly still in INSen driver's seat

We are three weeks out and not much has changed in the Indiana U.S. Senate race.

Braun has pumped another $2.4 million of his own money into his campaign. He posted $5.6 million for the third quarter after enduring some criticism from GOP operatives that he was “coasting” last month. U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly raised $3 million in the third quarter and enters the final three weeks with $4.5 million cash, compared to $1.9 million for Braun. As of Sept. 30, Donnelly had raised $8,339,000 in individual contributions (67% of all such contributions to the major-party candidates); Mike Braun had raised $4,119,000 (33%).

State Sen. Mike Delph, running in a tossup race in SD29 in Marion and Hamilton counties, tells HPI that the Kavanaugh effect is motivating the suburban female vote to his detriment. …

…Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the skyrocketing deficits “very disturbing,” but blamed mandatory spending on entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This gives Donnelly and Democrats an opening to tell voters that Republicans will seek to raise the retirement age and cut Medicare benefits. Those could be “third rail” debate points in a close race.

While the campaigns and their Super PAC allies continue to castigate their “Mexico Joe” and “China Mike” businesses, Donnelly has succeeded in focusing much of the late campaign debate on health care issues. Donnelly assailed Braun on seeking to end pre-existing condition coverage. Braun has responded with a TV ad saying he “fought the insurance companies” and will “always” cover pre-existing conditions. But fighting over that issue should be to Donnelly’s advantage.

While Pence was speaking in Indianapolis, former Vice President Joe Biden appeared at a Donnelly rally with Indiana Pacer star Victor Oladipo at the Hammond Civic Center. “If there’s any time we need more character in the United States Senate, it’s now,” Biden said as Donnelly looked on. “There’s a desperate need, in both parties, for women and men with character, who put their country above their party, above a president, above their own self-interests. And that’s Joe. That’s Joe Donnelly. Joe has more character in his little finger than the vast majority of the men and women I’ve worked with in my career.” Pacer Olapido told the crowd that the state is his adopted home and then said, “Vote Donnelly.”

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