Mike Braun comes out on top in Republican primary for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Mike Braun will challenge Democrat Joe Donnelly for his U.S. Senate seat in November.

Braun defeated Rep. Luke Messer and Rep. Todd Rokita to win the Republican nomination on Tuesday.

The hotly contested primary race gained national attention as the GOP attempts to retain its power in the Senate.

Fueled by politically motivated attack ads, the race was one of the most volatile in the country. However, after four televised debates, few policy differences were found between the candidates.

Although all three Republicans competed to prove which one was more conservative and loyal to Donald Trump, the president did not endorse any one them, so his supporters were spread throughout different camps.

Shortly after the race was called in Braun's favor, Messer and Rokita publicly conceded.

The Republican nominee then took the stage himself for a victory speech, during which he called on his former opponents to join him as he continues in the race for the Senate seat.

"When it comes to Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, it was a difficult decision for me, because we were all good conservatives and sometimes it gets a little difficult to differentiate the process of doing it, it gets intense, it gets harsh, but I hope they will join me just like I would with them," said Braun. "Our common goal all along was to retire Joe Donnelly."

Braun went on to say that he believes Indiana and the country would benefit from not having career politicians in government.

"I really believe if you get 10 to 12 of us in the Senate that have lived our lives first of all in the trenches of conservatism, not through the lens of a politician, I think that’s a key difference, you will actually start to see things change," said Braun.

Looking ahead, Braun explained how he plans to take on Sen. Donnelly.

"I know Joe Donnelly will try to come at me and I can’t wait to take the record of what we’ve done in our hometown and the time I’ve spent in the statehouse, and get those values and those ideas out there," said Braun.

CBS4 spoke with Sen. Donnelly about Braun's win. When asked about the Republican being an outsider, the Democrat said he thinks people want to focus on issues that affect their lives.

“What I think people really want is a focus on their lives and making sure we make and grow jobs right here in Indiana, that we focus on good health care for them, and that we stand up against things like the McConnell tax cuts where their Medicare is being challenged where their health care premiums are going to be going up, so I think it’s about the issues.”

On the issue of Braun being a former Democrat, Donnelly said he hasn’t given it much thought.

“To be honest with you I never even thought about it,” said Donnelly. “I’ve been focused on my job and what I’m trying to do and I know there was a lot of back and forth on the other side but I think it’s a lot more important what you’re going to do on healthcare then how you voted eight years ago.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb issued the following statement supporting Braun:

"Hoosiers need a strong team representing Indiana’s interests in the United States Senate. We need someone who will support the kinds of things that have made Indiana a leading state for job creation, financial strength and stability, and workforce development. I believe that Mike Braun is the right person to ensure that our long-held Indiana principles are pushed hard in Washington, D.C. I’ve long said that we need to see less of Washington in Indiana, and more of Indiana in Washington. Mike Braun will take a message of purpose with him to Washington as a U.S. Senator, and be a strong partner for me and for all Hoosiers.”

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody issued the following statement regarding Braun's nomination:

"The nation’s nastiest and most expensive primary has come to an end, and Rep. Braun has barely survived. Over the next six months, Hoosiers will come to understand why Rep. Braun funded his own primary campaign with the profits he made from importing auto parts from China at the expense of Hoosier workers: because he believes public office is his best opportunity to put his wallet first, and Hoosiers last. That’s why he voted dozens of times to raise your taxes while writing legislation to cut them for himself. We’ll see by November that he’s no match for Joe Donnelly’s hard work and Hoosier common sense."

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein issued the following statement:

“Representative Mike Braun emerges tonight badly damaged from one of the most divisive primaries in the country, where the candidates focused more on petty political attacks than on Hoosiers. With no more childish primary antics to hide behind, Rep. Braun will be forced to run on his record of self-dealing and using the power of the Statehouse to enrich himself – like when he carved out a tax break for himself while repeatedly raising taxes on Hoosiers – and voters will hold him accountable in November.”

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer issued the following statement:

On behalf of the Indiana Republican Party, I want to congratulate our Republican nominee and next U.S. Senator -- Mike Braun!

It's been a busy primary season. Hoosiers across the state have been working long hours -- making phone calls, knocking on doors, and working the polls in support of our Republicans candidates throughout the state. And no matter which one of our great Republican U.S. Senate candidates you supported during this primary -- Mike Braun, Luke Messer and Todd Rokita -- it's now time to come together.

That's because Mike Braun will provide President Trump with a new partner in the Senate, working to advance conservative, Hoosier values. He's got a track record of delivering results, and he'll provide the firewall to prevent obstructionist Democrats from causing even more gridlock in Washington.

Mike Braun will also take this race directly to Democrat Joe Donnelly. He'll remind Hoosiers that Donnelly isn't the moderate he claims to be. Donnelly is a liberal Democrat, who has a history of voting in lock-step with his Democrat bosses, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. But it doesn't stop there. Donnelly is a lazy legislator who was ranked as the the least effective Democrat in in the U.S. Senate -- and that's really saying something.

Tonight, I'm excited to offer my support to Mike Braun, and I invite you to join me.

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