Businessman Mike Braun won the Republican nomination in Indiana on Tuesday to challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in November, a sign that President Donald Trump hasn’t satiated the GOP base’s demand for political outsiders.
Braun isn’t a total newcomer to politics ― he’s served in the state legislature and on a local school board ― but he spent millions of dollars of his own money on television ads telling how he built his warehouse distribution company. His ads also attacked his two rivals, Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, as career politicians.
“I built a successful national company here in my hometown of Jasper, and it’s time we had some Hoosier know-how in the Senate, rather than more career politicians,” he said in one of his spots.
Braun, Messer and Rokita each spent much of the primary campaign pledging fealty to Trump’s agenda, a no-brainer in a state the president won by 19 percentage points in 2016 and where he remains broadly popular with the GOP primary electorate. Rokita campaigned with a cardboard cutout of the president, Messer nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize and Braun played up the similarity of his business career to Trump’s.
In his race against Donnelly, Braun will face a first-term Democrat with a low-profile in Washington but a moderate reputation in his home state. Donnelly is considered one of the most vulnerable Senate incumbents running for re-election this year.