Braun our choice for Senate to embrace Trump agenda, not business as usual

Like Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, Mike Braun was a businessman among established politicians in the Senate primary race early this year.

Todd Rokita had been Indiana’s Secretary of State from 2002-2010 and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2011. Luke Messer, likewise, served as a congressman since 2013.

Braun, our choice in Tuesday’s midterm race against incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly, is the president and CEO of Meyer Distributing in Jasper, a tiny spot on the map southwest of French Lick and north of Santa Claus in southern Indiana. His political resume was scant — 10 years on the Jasper School Board, and three years in the Indiana House of Representatives.

And like Trump, he won the primary election as Indiana voters, who favored The Donald for the presidency, also seemed to follow that same call to “drain the swamp” in Washington, by voting for a virtual non-politician for the Senate.

By becoming a sort-of Hoosier version of Trump, as an Indianapolis Star profile described him — a successful businessman who doesn’t need the job — Braun seems to have endeared himself to everyday working people in this state, who are sick and tired of the same old runaround in Congress.

“For most of us, we’re just fed up with the ‘business as usual’ aspect of our federal government,” Braun said in another profile in The National Review. “The best thing about the Trump agenda is we mean business now. It’s not business as usual.”

Now the 64-year-old, who shows up in TV debates, campaign ads and personal appearances (he and Trump will both appear in a rally at the Memorial Coliseum this evening) in his patented blue, button-collar shirt with no tie, is on the verge of unseating Donnelly, who has resorted to hitching his own campaign to the president in order to draw in the 2016 Trump voters.

Braun is a genuine Hoosier success story. He grew up in Jasper, a town of 15,000. He was a three-sport star athlete in high school, married a cheerleader and went to Wabash College. He received his master’s degree from Harvard Business School, then returned to his home town and sold kitchen cabinets for three years, according to the Star.

Afterward, he joined his father’s business, which sells truck accessories and now operates in 35 states, employing more than 850 workers, including 450 in Indiana.

That’s made Braun a wealthy man with assets between $37 million and $95 million.

As a businessman, Braun says he has learned to make hard decisions, adapt to changing circumstances and live within his means. And he believes those are qualities Congress needs to embrace.

A friend, banker Eric Olinger, told the Review Braun has become a success in business by not spending money he doesn’t need to spend. His frugality is real, even though he has put millions of dollars of his own money into his campaign.

“That’s how big a deal I think it is,” Braun told the Star, “that if guys like me don’t step in, across the spectrum, that we’re going to keep going down the trail where we were headed before Trump came along.”

Braun says the lack of entrepreneurs currently in the Senate is a concern.

“We need a whole lot more of them than we do attorneys that never really practiced and became career politicians,” he said in the National Review interview. “Nothing against them, but they haven’t delivered us a great product.”

Braun says he hopes to address trade issues as one of his top priorities if he gets elected. He would like to discuss with Trump how to go forward on tariffs so they stop hurting Hoosiers, and how to capitalize on the president’s “America First” focus on trade, which is popular with Indiana voters, while, as the National Review writes, “still insisting that trade policy must actually help them long-term.”

“If he’s been able to effectively convey that message on the road,” says the Review, “Braun will be hard to beat.”