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Sen. Joe Donnelly meets with Bloomington-area volunteers two weeks out from Election Day



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Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) hugs a woman in the crowd that gathered Oct. 23 at the Indiana Democratic Coordinated Campaign field office. Donnelly traveled to Bloomington to encourage people to vote early for the midterm elections.  Ty Vinson

Sen. Joe Donnelly told volunteers and staff in the local Coordinated Campaign field office Tuesday he appreciated their efforts on the ground in the final weeks of the election.

The incumbent Democrat started his day in Louisville, Kentucky, and worked his way up to Bloomington for his fifth stop of the day. With him was another Senate Democrat, Nevada’s Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

After speaking to the room of about 30 people, he worked the crowd, stopping to talk to most of the volunteers and pose for photos in his blue button-down shirt — also a fixture of his opponent. Donnelly and Cortez Masto’s remarks primarily focused on the volunteers’ canvassing efforts and their hopes for high voter turnout, a metric which Indiana has done poorly on in recent elections.

“Know that we’re there with you,” Cortez Masto told the room.

Donnelly also issued what appeared to be a unifying message, saying that 9th District Democratic candidate Liz Watson — extremely popular in her native Bloomington — had a close race. 

Polling and analysis website FiveThirtyEight classifies the 9th District race as likely Republican in its “classic” model

The room erupted into cheers when Donnelly mentioned Watson’s name. The candidate for 9th District rallied alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, in Dunn Meadow last Friday. 

Watson and Donnelly don’t share all the same political beliefs, especially Watson’s Medicare-for-all platform. Donnelly’s campaign recently released an advertisement attacking what it called a socialist attempt to allow the government to control health insurance.

“I represent the whole state, and I try to do a good job for the whole state, and that’s how I develop my policies,” Donnelly said in an interview with the Indiana Daily Student during his Bloomington stop.

Donnelly’s race to fend of Republican challenger and Jasper, Indiana-native Mike Braun is currently rated "lean Democrat," and recent polling has not consistently put one candidate far over the top. 

The senator said he didn’t see any obstacles in the next two weeks and that he was excited to campaign in more parts of the state as Election Day approaches. If he wins reelection, he said he’d like to work to preserve existing health care protections, introduce more opioid epidemic-fighting legislation and make sure there was enough money in the national budget for military and veterans — in a bipartisan way, he was sure to add.

As Donnelly left the Bloomington office Tuesday evening, the volunteers clapped and cheered again. 

“Send ‘em back to Jasper,” one person yelled. 

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