Looking back on Election NightBy
And so it goes.
Governor Mitt Romney wins the fight in Indiana, but loses the war. President Barack Obama wins the day and four more years.
In Indiana, Congressman Joe Donnelly gets a promotion. He moves from representing a district that was actually redistricted from underneath him by Republican lawmakers to a seat in the United States Senate. For Donnelly, redistricting wasn’t an end, it was an opportunity.
He has Richard Mourdock to thank for that. When Mourdock upset 36-year incumbent Richard Lugar, Republicans knew they would have a fight on their hands to keep the seat. Mourdock may have thought fellow Republicans would rally to his cause, but that never really happened.
It was an uneasy alliance, at best.
When a third party PAC sent out a mailer saying Richard Lugar endorsed the Mourdock campaign, the Lugar camp only said that it would vote for him, nothing more. The message was clear. Lugar would not campaign for the man who defeated him. Lugar supporters took the cue. Some would hold their bitterness and vote for Mourdock, but most would cross over or vote Libertarian.
While Mourdock tried to rally his base, Donnelly worked to expand his. Recognizing an opportunity, he went after Lugar Republicans.
Then, Mourdock delivered a gift that cemented his demise – the off-handed comment about abortion in cases of rape. It echoed not only around the state, but the entire country. It fed extremist fears that Democrats everywhere tried to use to show Republicans were waging a war on women. From that day on, all Joe Donnelly had to do is go through the motions: the election was his.
In the race for governor, we have all been entertained by the John Gregg campaign commercials. But even as I watched, I often thought if he were running for mayor of Sandborn he would win. I envisioned, instead, a commercial showing him walking down a long road, talking about where we’ve come from and where we needed to go. Something more serious, with more direction, more purpose. His campaign showed me once again why we like John Gregg, but we’ve always known he was a nice man, but I don’t think we knew enough about why he should be elected governor.
Congressman Mike Pence ran an above-the-fray campaign. He inherited a mantle from Governor Mitch Daniels, just by being a member of the same political party. Hoosiers assumed he would just continue in Daniels footsteps.
They were comfortable with that.
Pence tried hard not to disrupt that sentiment or alarm anyone. Status quo was the unspoken theme of the campaign, until Mourdock’s comments. It raised alarmist fears and his opponent tried to tie him to Mourdock. It gave voters pause, but in the end, it was not enough to make Hoosiers change their minds. They want continuity. Pence could offer that, Gregg could not.
Now Mike Pence will hold a press conference with Governor Daniels on Wednesday morning. The two will talk of transition and the future. That is good, because voters are tired of all the negative ads and negative words. Now they want to be reassured. They want a respite from politics. They want to talk about the Colts and the Pacers and – can you believe it? – I think they want to just see a regular TV commercial again.