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IN THE NEWS: Is Joe Donnelly beatable? Not if you ask many “Lugar Republicans”

INDIANAPOLIS - As the GOP’s senate candidates continue taking up more extreme positions that they believe will help them come May, the Republican voters who routinely powered Richard Lugar to victory find themselves drifting towards Joe Donnelly, Abdul Hakim-Shabazz notes. In a new column for the Statehouse File, Hakim-Shabazz writes that a “significant voting bloc” of Republicans don’t think Joe is beatable. More and more of the so-called “Lugar Republicans” don’t see how any of the GOP candidates will do a better job in the Senate than Joe has – and they’re beginning to give him their support.

Meanwhile, Joe’s campaign has been focused on inviting the same voters who helped elect him in 2012 back into the fold, starting with his six-day, 36 stop RV tour that met with supporters in traditional GOP strongholds.

From the Statehouse File: Commentary: Looking for those Lugar Republicans

Since we are now six months away from the May primary and a year away from the general election, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at the U.S. Senate race.  I’ve spent the past few weeks talking to various sources around the state to get a feel for where things stand in the U.S. Senate race, and the one constant theme that keeps coming back is that Joe Donnelly might be a lot tougher to beat than initially thought.

So, what’s left to look at, I submit to you, are the “Lugar Republicans”.

You remember them, the members of the GOP who went and voted for Donnelly in 2012 over Richard Mourdock… I think they will be crucial in not only the general election but also the primary. And in a universe where 60 percent of Republicans are undecided, these guys are going to be a significant voting bloc.

We’ve been speaking to many of them, and they are far from overwhelmed with the current crop of candidates. At best, the “social club” wing of the group tends to favor Messer. They are intrigued by Braun but have a lot of questions about him. They are not Rokita fans. And a good chunk of them don’t think Donnelly is beatable.

Both [Congressmen] are going to have to do something. This summer Donnelly marched in parades in the Republican strongholds of Hamilton and Johnson counties. And, please note, a check of 2016 election results shows Donald Trump underperforming all the other candidates. He got 87,300 votes while the average vote for the three County Commissioners was 97,000 votes. And I was even informed that a wealthy group of Hancock County farmers threw a fundraiser for Donnelly because he liked his position on agriculture.

Regardless, one longtime Lugar friend and supporter told us this, “Lugar Republicans (and the majority of Hoosiers) are ultimately for good governance… it’s unclear how the current slate of Republican candidates for U.S. Senate will better address the problems of the nation than Sen. Donnelly is already doing.