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Local politics

Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Richard Mourdock, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Indiana, expressed surprise at his wide margin of victory during the Coney Dog Victory Lunch on Tuesday at Allen County Republican Party headquarters.
Mourdock looking ahead in Fort Wayne visit

Senate nominee ready for battle

– Richard Mourdock took a victory lap through Fort Wayne on Wednesday, hardly slowing down ahead of his next race.

The day after trouncing six-term Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in the Republican primary election, Mourdock began campaigning against his Democratic foe in the November general election.

Mourdock said he had two words for Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd: “Bring it.”

Speaking at the Allen County GOP’s traditional post-election lunch, Mourdock scolded Donnelly for supporting President Obama’s economic stimulus plan and health care law.

Donnelly’s voting record “will time and time again be linked to Barack Obama, and that is not going to win in the state of Indiana,” the second-term state treasurer told about 125 people at the local Republican headquarters.

Donnelly, D-2nd, was unopposed in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. He is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of conservative and moderate Democrats in the House.

In a phone interview late Tuesday, Donnelly called Lugar “a cornerstone of the Senate, and it’s very different with Richard Mourdock.”

“Only in Washington and Richard Mourdock’s world is more partisanship and division a good thing,” he said.

“I have worked closely with members from both sides, Republicans and Democrats. ... If you want to get something done, send somebody who is going to spend his time trying to work to move things forward.”

Mourdock said the only way to break political gridlock in Washington is through one-party rule. Democrats control the White House and hold a slim majority in the Senate, while Republicans run the House.

“The bipartisanship that we’ve had the last few years has taken us to the brink of bankruptcy,” Mourdock said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s not working very well. I do believe one side or the other has to prevail in this great national argument.

“My point remains, try to build a majority of Republicans, so if we have the phrase ‘bipartisanship,’ it means Democrats will be joining us because we are in the majority,” he said.

Earlier, Mourdock told the lunch crowd that Donnelly and Democrats “are going to try to say Mourdock is some wild-eyed, far-right-wing, extremist, tea party candidate. It’s already begun. And I’m not surprised by that.”

Having been elected twice to statewide office and luring the most votes in Indiana in 2010 “is not the electoral legacy, if you will, of someone who is out on the fringe,” Mourdock said.

Donnelly has criticized Mourdock for trying as treasurer to halt the 2009 sale of bankrupt Chrysler to Italian automaker Fiat.

Mourdock opposed terms of the deal unfavorable to Indiana pension and infrastructure funds that held Chrysler bonds.

“That was incredibly irresponsible to do. Sen. Lugar and I fought to save the auto industry,” Donnelly said Tuesday.

Yet in Howard County, where Chrysler employs about 5,000 people at its Kokomo transmission operations, Mourdock attracted 61 percent of the vote, a smidgen more than he received statewide.

Mourdock topped 70 percent throughout northeast Indiana.

“Never did we expect to see the numbers we saw statewide, but never ever did I imagine we would win by a 70-30 margin here in Allen County,” he said.