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IN-Sen: The GOP could flip this Democrat seat. Here's what you need to know about who's running.

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Businessman and former state Rep. Mike Braun (R) faces incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) in the Indiana Senate election in November — and this race is one of the GOP's best opportunities to flip a Senate seat from the Democrats.

In January, CNN noted that the Indiana Senate seat was one of 10 "most likely to flip in 2018."

The primary election was held May 8. Donnelly ran uncontested, and Braun won the Republican nomination with 41.2 percent of the vote.

What do we know about Mike Braun?

Braun has received endorsements from Indiana state Republican Reps. Chris May, Ron Bacon, Bob Morris, John Young, and Christopher Judy, as well as Indiana state Sen. Liz Brown (R).

President Donald Trump won the state in 2016 with 56.5 percent of the vote and amassed more than 500,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton.

Speaking to Fox News, Braun likened himself to Trump.

“President Trump, he was a disrupter, outsider and businessman, and look what’s occurred,” Brain said. “I’ve lived it. I’ve signed thousands of paychecks just like the president did [as a businessman]. He was an inspiration for me to run for senator, and I hope for others as well. There needs to be more of us to step outside the comfort zone."

He also said that his life experience has given him an advantage if he is elected senator.

“I won’t need to be briefed on important issues when I get [to Washington]. I’ve had to live through them,” Braun told Fox News. “I think if we had eight or 12 of us in the Senate who came from my business background, you’d see a lot of different things in government. The Senate is where the issues are, and most people there are career politicians.”

According to a report by the Indianapolis Star, Braun voted Democrat up until 2012.

The Braun campaign released their first TV ad on Thursday. The ad features some of Braun's background and message for the voters as a Washington outsider:

Here at home, our business means jobs for neighbors. Better paychecks mean stronger families and stronger communities. That’s why we nearly double the minimum wage. When you know that’s going to friends and neighbors, that’s what having a business is all about.

Our responsibility is to each other, and Washington shirked its responsibility to us. You know, nothing changes and the politicians stay the same. It’s time we change that.



What do we know about Joe Donnelly?

In May, the New York Times reported that Donnelly is "believed to be one of this election year's most vulnerable Democrats."

On Tuesday, Donnelly told NPR's Ari Shapiro that he doesn't believe that the state of Indiana is "difficult" for Democrats.

"Well, you know, I don't know that I'd agree with the premise of the question when you talk about Indiana being difficult for Democrats," Donnelly said. "I think Indiana is a state that rewards hard work, that rewards common sense. And, you know, I think when you focus on the kind of things that are important to people — jobs, stopping the scourge of opioids, standing up for our veterans, you know, fighting for affordable health care — I think that's actually what Hoosiers are looking for."

He also spoke of bipartisanship during the interview.

"My focus isn't about Democrat or Republican. It is about, how do we make the lives of everyday friends and neighbors better? I think when we focus on the meat and potatoes not only as a party but as a country, we do really well," Donnelly added.

Shapiro went on to ask Donnelly about his voting record.

"You have voted with the president more than 50 percent of the time," Shapiro said. "You voted to confirm Mike Pompeo and Gina Haspel to lead the State Department and the CIA. On the other hand, you voted against the Republican tax overhaul. Do you worry that by bucking the president in some areas and supporting him in others, you may wind up with no one in your corner?"

Donnelly responded and said that he wasn't at all worried, because his "job is do to what's right for America."

"That's what we all should be doing," he added.

In April, Donnelly also told Fox News that he's voted with the president 62 percent of the time.

“I’ve voted with the president 62 percent of the time,” Braun said. “I’ve voted for a whole bunch of his nominees … we’ve worked together on the opioid issue. We’ve worked together on veterans issues.”

What about the fundraising?

In May, the Indianapolis Business Journal published Braun and Donnelly's personal finance disclosures.

According to the report, Braun lists assets worth "roughly $35 million to $96 million."

Donnelly's assets, according to the report, are "somewhere between $872,000 and $1.9 million."

The Indianapolis Star reported that Braun self-funded his primary campaign and traveled to D.C. in May to meet with lobbyists at a fundraiser.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hosted the event.

Democrats, however, didn't care for Braun's D.C. trip and called him out for the fundraising, according to WBND-LD, noting that Braun is entering "swampy" territory and contrasting the event to Braun's claims that he aims to "drain" the D.C. "swamp."

Indiana’s Democratic Party called Braun out in May over the trip.

“Rep. Braun’s warm embrace of Mitch McConnell is a slap in the face to Hoosiers who believed the outsider act he put on during the primary,” state party spokesman Michael Feldman told WBND.

Indiana Republican Party spokesman Pete Seat told the station that the Democrats' criticism is null and void.

“Mike Braun is a certifiable outsider who has spent his adult life building a successful career in Indiana, while Democrat Joe Donnelly has spent the past 12 years doing whatever Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi ask him to do,” Seat said.

The station reported that Donnelly has raised more than $9.7 million for his re-election campaign and has "just over" $6 million in cash remaining on hand.

The station also reported that Braun has raised about $5.8 million and is left with $1.3 million following "intense primary spending."

So who's favored to win?

At the time of this writing, the Cook Political Report calls the race a toss-up.

One last thing…
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