INDIANAPOLIS — The Trump Train apparently still has plenty of momentum in the Hoosier State.
Powered by two presidential visits in the final 96 hours of his campaign, Republican Mike Braun appeared to be elected Tuesday to represent Indiana for a six-year term in the U.S. Senate.
The former Jasper state representative credited Republican President Donald Trump for pushing him to an apparent victory over U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and for inspiring Braun to seek higher office in the first place.
"What a journey this has been," Braun said. "We've got a rare opportunity, I think, to really make things happen in D.C., and I can't wait to be a part of it."
Braun said he hopes to show the nation that the responsible Republican governance that has served Indiana so well for more than a decade can likewise improve the entire country.
"I want to thank all Hoosiers for giving me a resounding victory — putting your faith in me — and I will not let you down," Braun said.
Donnelly conceded defeat during a brief speech at a separate Indianapolis hotel ballroom. He thanked his campaign and official staff, and everyone in Indiana who seeks a better America.
"We love this country so much," Donnelly said. "We need to make sure we work to bring our country together, rather than to divide it, to make sure that every American has a chance."
Donnelly did not indicate whether he plans to run again for elected office. Democrats almost certainly will consider him as they seek a 2020 challenger to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.
The Indiana Senate contest is expected to be the most expensive in state history with spending by the candidates, political parties and interest groups likely to top $100 million when the final numbers are totaled.
All that money produced an unceasing barrage of television ads largely focused on the candidates' foreign trade records, while most public opinion polls showed Hoosiers were far more interested in their positions on health care.
In the end, however, it seems Braun's 100 percent support for Trump's agenda carried the day with Hoosier voters, compared to Donnelly's practice of only backing Trump policies when Donnelly agreed they best served Indiana.