After 36 years in the Republican column, Richard Lugar’s Senate seat has switched parties as Congressman Joe Donnelly defeated Republican Richard Mourdock Tuesday. Considered one of the key races in determining control of the U.S. Senate, the race between the two candidates – separated by a razor-thin margin for months — was colored by a significant influx of outside money and negative ads.
In his victory speech, Donnelly thanked all those who helped him and pledged to work with Republicans to increase jobs, improve the economy and decrease deficit spending.
“I’m not going there as a one-party senator, I’m going there as your senator,” he told his supporters, adding that his victory carries on a tradition for Hoosiers in the U.S. Senate. “And that tradition are people like Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh, who worked together, whose only focus is on what’s right for our country.”
National groups sought to paint Mourdock as a Tea Party extremist who would further polarize Washington while Donnelly was portrayed as a lackey for President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But the turning point of the race likely came in the final debate, in which Mourdock said he believed pregnancies from rape were something God intended to happen.
Donnelly’s backers jumped on the remark and a majority of polls seemed to swing permanently in the Democrat’s favor. Donnelly will replace Senator Richard Lugar, whom Mourdock ousted in May’s primary.
“I can’t wait to get to work,” Donnelly said.