News From Terre Haute, Indiana

News

January 4, 2013

Indiana’s new U.S. senator stakes place in ‘middle’

Joe Donnelly takes oath of office

INDIANAPOLIS — Joe Donnelly has just arrived in the U.S. Senate, but already he’s talking about how eager he is to get out of the nation’s capital.

In a conference call with reporters before he was sworn in as Indiana’s newest senator Thursday, Donnelly said he’ll be traveling the state next week seeking the support of Hoosiers to help him forge a stronger role for what he called “the middle.”

“There is so much more wisdom back in Indiana than in Washington,” Donnelly said. “I’m the hired help. I work for everybody back home. It is my job to make the state and nation stronger for our children and grandchildren.”

Donnelly, 57, said the best way for him to do that job is to be part of the emerging “middle group” of moderates in the Senate that can influence their party caucuses and push for legislation of their own.

“We are putting together a very significant middle group,” Donnelly told reporters. “It’s been heartening to see how many folks on the Senate side have formed in the middle.”

Donnelly, a three-term U.S. congressman from South Bend, was elected in November after a running a campaign built on his reputation as a conservative Democrat who wasn’t beholden to his party’s leadership in Washington, D.C.

He beat the much more conservative Republican in the race, Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock, who tapped into strong tea party support to topple six-term U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar in the May primary.

Echoing a favorite slogan from his campaign, Donnelly told reporters he’s coming into the Senate, “not as a Republican or a Democrat, but as a Hoosier.”

What that means, he said, is that he’s committed to getting past the bitter partisan divides that have gripped Congress in deadlock and led to the high-drama, last-moment votes earlier this week to save the nation from falling off the “fiscal cliff.”

“I am really looking forward to working with senators on both sides,” said Donnelly, who joins 54 other Democrats in the 100-member Senate. His major goals, he said, are to pay down the national debt and create more jobs.

As a freshman senator, Donnelly lacks the seniority that would land him a spot in his caucus leadership. But he predicted his influence would come from the alliances he forms with a handful of moderate Democrats in the Senate, including incoming Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and longtime West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

Political scientist Mike Wolf, who’s done research work on the partisan politics of Congress and teaches at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, said Donnelly could have influence through alliances.

“It’s probably easier in the upcoming Senate than in the past Senate and certainly easier than in the House,” Wolf said, adding that House members are more tightly controlled by party leaders and ideology.

Wolf said it won’t take long to tell whether Donnelly and his moderate colleagues have sway, because they’ll soon face potentially nasty fights over the federal debt ceiling.

Donnelly told reporters that he’s wary of the damage those battles could do. “Playing with the debt ceiling is a very, very dangerous thing to our credit rating and the world economy,” he said.

Donnelly also told reporters that he’ll model his tenure on other senators from Indiana, including Lugar and former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, a Democrat, and Indiana’s senior senator, Republican Dan Coats.

Donnelly said he’s reached out to all of them and asked Lugar if he could come to him for advice. “I asked him if I could give him a call every now and then,” Donnelly said. “He laughed and said he wouldn’t mind. He’s been a tremendous friend. He is a phenomenal role model.”

Maureen Hayden is the Indiana Statehouse bureau chief for CNHI, the parent company of the Tribune-Star. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Obamas Attend Easter Service Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Ferry Captain Received Medical Treatment Raw: Crowds Rally at '420' Celebration in Denver Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier Transcript Reveals Confusion in Ferry Evacuation Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Popular Science Honors Year's Top Inventions Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing
NDN Video
Lindsay Lohan Reveals She Had Miscarriage in Reality Show Finale Teen hitchhikes in wheel well of flight from California to Hawaii "RHOA's" Dramatic Brawl Marathoners Celebrate Easter With Tradition Celebs Share Their Easter Fun Hundreds Gather for Denver Pot Rally on Easter ET Presents The Summer Movie Preview Lauren Stoner Shows Off Her Incredible Bikini Body At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Dr. Phil Put In The Hot Seat By His Own Wife Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity
Real Estate News