NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: Indiana should vote “no” for another Joe Donnelly term in Washington

We have stated here that Indiana’s Joe Donnelly is one of the nation’s Democratic senators in jeopardy of losing their seats in the November mid-term election in states that voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

We repeatedly warned Donnelly that his chances of being re-elected would be jeopardized if he voted against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice to replace the retired Anthony Kennedy.

Saturday he did just that, voting against Kavanaugh, although the judge was confirmed anyway in a 50-48 vote. Monday, the same day Kavanaugh was ceremonially sworn in by Kennedy at the White House, Donnelly squared off with Republican opponent Mike Braun and Libertarian Lucy Brenton in the first of two senatorial debates put on by the Indiana Debate Commission, this one at Purdue University Northwest in Westville. The second will be Oct. 30 in Indianapolis.

It was clear in the televised, hour-long debate that Donnelly was hitching himself to the president as much as possible to assuage the concerns of Indiana’s swing voters who may have voted for Trump in 2016.

“I go against my party all the time,” Donnelly said in countering Braun’s charge that Donnelly takes his marching orders from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “I’ve been with the president 62 percent of the time.”

And to support that he mentioned more than once that he voted to confirm Trump’s first Supreme Court replacement, Neil Gorsuch, who filled the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in early 2016.

A 2017 Congressional Quarterly report does show Donnelly voted to support the Trump agenda 62 percent of the time, according to a story earlier this year in the Indianapolis Business Journal. But it also shows that he votes with his party 74 percent of the time.

Furthermore, the IBJ article cited a December 2017 news release from the National Republican Senatorial Committee that cited research from a CQ report showing Donnelly voted with Schumer 85 percent of the time since 2013.

Braun attacked Donnelly in the debate for his votes against Trump and with Schumer on high-profile issues, including his “no” vote on Kavanaugh.

“If you want more of the same,” Braun warned in the debate, “Joe’s your guy.”

During Monday’s debate Donnelly restated the position he announced prior to the Senate confirmation vote Saturday in which he said he opposed Kavanaugh because he had concerns over his “impartiality and judicial temperament.”

That position, however, was not what he expressed earlier. In a statement on Sept. 28, according to a fact-checking report by The Associated Press, the day after Christine Blasey Ford publicly testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a teenager, Donnelly announced he would not support the nominee. He said Ford’s testimony was “disturbing and credible” and insisted the FBI should conduct an investigation.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) formally called for an FBI investigation the same day, and the ensuing FBI report found nothing to corroborate the accusations against Kavanaugh. Donnelly never mentioned the judge’s temperament or any issues of impartiality until after the FBI’s report that there was nothing to substantiate Ford’s claims.

We still believe Donnelly, like the vast majority of Democrats, was set on voting “no” against Kavanaugh no matter what in order to block a conservative majority on the court. And for that, we still believe Indiana should vote “no” for another Donnelly term in Washington.