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Donnelly wins seat over Walorski

Sam Stryker | Wednesday, November 3, 2010

U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, retained his seat in Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District Tuesday, narrowly defeating Republican Jackie Walorski in one of the country’s key congressional races.

Donnelly won 48.2 percent of the vote, while Walorski had 46.8 percent.

In a statement released to the South Bend Tribune, Donnelly thanked Northern Indiana voters for their support and reiterated his focus on improving the job market in his district.

“What’s at the forefront of all of our minds is the economy, and I won’t stop until every Hoosier who wants a job, has a job,” he said.

Adjunct professor of American Studies and South Bend Tribune columnist Jack Colwell said with Indiana polls being among the first to close nationally, the early results of this particular race would set the tone for the 2010 Midterm elections. He noted an article in Tuesday’s edition of The New York Times, which listed the race as one to watch.

 

“Everyone knows there will be a big Republican tide,” he said. “It’s a bellwether race that everyone will be watching.”

Eileen Flanagan, president of Notre Dame College Democrats, said she is extremely pleased with what the victory represents, not only for Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, but also for the nation as a whole.

“We’re absolutely thrilled,” she said. “It’s really taken over the national narrative because he is a moderate Democrat running against a very conservative opponent.”

Flanagan said the club was especially pleased with the results because of all the hard work they put in to aiding the reelection of Donnelly.

“It validates us as a club because we knocked on hundreds of doors and made thousands of calls,” she said.

President of Notre Dame College Republicans Josh Varanelli said Walorski’s loss was not a shock for the club.

 

“We’re not terribly surprised. Joe Donnelly has been an incumbent for a while,” he said “We didn’t expect her to pull this off, but she definitely came quite close, closer than we expected.”

 

Colwell said Republicans had targeted this race as one to make a statement, as indicated by the amount of money spent by independent groups on negative advertisements directed at Donnelly.

“They [had] picked this race as a target,” he said. “He raised more than Walorski, but she had more money from independent groups.”

Varanelli said despite the local congressional loss, on a national scale his club is extremely excited with the Republican results, which indicate that the party will gain a majority in the House of Representatives.

“It was a relief to take the House,” he said. “As of now our expectations have been fulfilled. We’re just waiting to see what else falls in our lap.”

Flanagan said the disappointment of losing the House is coupled with the political challenges this change will present.

“We’re obviously disappointed we lost the House but we did what we could,” she said. “I think the Democrats will have to re-evaluate their priorities because in order to get legislation passed, they must compromise.”

Varanelli said while legislative change may not be swift, what is important is the statement Americans have made with their voting choices this election.

“It’s not like we’re going to see instantaneous change,” he said. “I think Americans have spoken, and Democrats will not take voters for granted as they have. This proves the lack of substance behind some of the promises of 2008.”

Flanagan said now that Election Day is over, her group can appreciate all the hard work they put into the campaign.

She said such efforts have defied the notion that young Americans are unconcerned with the election process.

“People really stigmatize young people as being apathetic, but our club defied these stereotypes,” Flanagan said. “We really care about the community and the Democratic party.”

Once the lame-duck period ends and the newly-elected officials take office in January, Colwell said Republicans and Democrats would be even more confrontational than they were during the 2010 campaign season.

He said this is due to the fact that a Republican House will be squaring off n President Barack Obama.

“The initial thing will be that it will be more divisive, more partisan than it has been,” Colwell said. “The switch of the House to Republican will be a stalemate.”