August 8th, 2010
12:50 PM ET
4 years ago

CNN 100: Economy center stage in hard-hit Indiana 2nd

Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:

Indiana 2nd – Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) is seeking a 3rd term
Primary: May 4, 2010
Location: North-central Indiana
Days until Election Day: 86

Washington (CNN) - Voters in Indiana's 2nd district will likely have one thing on their minds as they cast ballots this fall: the economy. The district has been hit especially hard by the economic turmoil of the last two years. Although unemployment is down from its 2009 highs for most of the 12 counties that make up the district, all but two counties still face unemployment rates of 10 percent or higher. The district's economic struggles have not been lost on President Obama. He campaigned here in 2008 and returned on multiple occasions while in office.

Standing alongside him during those presidential visits was the district's Democratic representative to Congress, Joe Donnelly. Donnelly, formerly a practicing attorney and local businessman, won this seat on his second attempt in 2006, defeating GOP Rep. Chris Chocola 54 percent to 46 percent. He had lost to Chocola two years earlier by nine points. In 2008, Donnelly easily won re-election in another good year for Democrats, winning 67 percent of the vote and carrying all 12 counties against Elkhart businessman Luke Puckett.

In office, he has supported some of the party's key legislative initiatives, such as Wall Street reform and the economic stimulus package, but has opposed others, such as the "cap and trade" energy proposal. On health care reform, Donnelly was one of several Democratic members who declined to publicly state their position on the legislation until just hours before the vote. In the end, Donnelly supported the bill, which became law in March.

His Republican opponent is Jackie Walorski, a state representative first elected in 2004. She represents parts of St. Joseph County, where she was born and raised, and parts of Elkhart County, one of the more heavily Republican areas in the district. Walorski has criticized Donnelly for his "yes" vote on health care and has called for repealing the law.

At mid-year, Donnelly had a sizable cash advantage over Walorski, with $989,000 in the bank compared to $303,000 for the Republican. Donnelly also leads Walorski in overall fundraising, $1.2 million to $565,000. However, Walorski outraised the incumbent in the 2nd quarter of the year. She raised $260,000 in contributions from April through June, compared to Donnelly's $250,000.

Indiana's 2nd district is located in the north-central region of the state. It is home to Notre Dame University in South Bend, as well as to industrial manufacturing areas like Elkhart to the East and Kokomo to the South. Barack Obama carried the district in 2008 with 54 percent of the vote. George W. Bush won here in 2004 with 56 percent and won a differently drawn district in 2000 with 53 percent.

Donnelly was elected in a strong year for Democrats while campaigning against President Bush's handling of the Iraq War. Four years later, he finds himself in a much different political environment. This time around, the big issue is the economy, and the person occupying the Oval Office is a member of his own party. Though Donnelly enters the final three months of the campaign with some advantages, he does face the risk that voters looking to send a message to Obama or the Democratic Congress will use him as an outlet for any anger or frustration they feel about the economic situation at home. Though he is not as vulnerable as another incumbent Democratic congressman from his state, Rep. Baron Hill, Donnelly could very conceivably find himself the victim of the same kind of voter dissatisfaction that swept him into office over an incumbent four years ago.


Filed under: 2010 • CNN 100 • Indiana • Popular Posts
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Chipster

    During his campaign, John McCain said: “We need a successor to Kyoto, a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner.” He supported the legislation before he opposed it – Deja Vu?

    Now that the Obama Administration supports it, McCain and other GOP supporters suddenly oppose it. In fact, a number of GOP leaders have actually voted against legislation that they cosponsored, simply because they don't want progress made by the current President.

    Is that what we really want from our leaders? Do we really want leaders who will delay progress, block good policy, and avoid doing what's good for the nation because their candidate wasn't elected?

    August 8, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  2. Hugo

    Yeah, Indiana, vote Democrat and Unions, go team....just thank God Obama's near trillion dollar stimu-less created or saved your jobs.

    August 8, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. terry - Indiana

    Where are the jobs? Republicans and Democrats are guilty of allowing American Corporations to move jobs offshore. The House and Senate voted to give General Motors over $40 Billion Dollars, and GM promptly sent $1.5 Billion Dollars to Germany, just to keep a German Auto Plant open. Germany requires that workers be retained and their work environment protected, and with that move, GM closed Saturn Plants in the United States. When you vote, ask yourself, where did they take my job? Republicans and Democrats, they took your jobs. Americans no longer control their country, the Congress and Senate have been bought and paid for by Corporate America. The American Worker is a thing of the past.

    August 8, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. BeverlyNC

    Voters better be taking a hard look at the candidates. Democrats have worked hard and delivered solutions for the PEOPLE all year. They have passed over 200 laws for the benefit of the People. They have cleaned up Republicans messes and turned the economy around and have jobs growing instead of losing 750K a month under Bush.

    Republicans have worked against the people and only stood up when corporations paid them for their votes. They have betrayed America and they have betrayed us. As Michael Steele said " ALL we care about is winning". How true since they voted NO on every single piece of legislation. It was not policy differences, it was all a political game to have us fail in hopes of a power grab.

    DO NOT reward Republicans for trying to destroy America, slowing our economic recovery, stopping job creation projects, voting against equal pay for women, unemployment benefits 9 times while people went hungry, spreadIng fear and lies to scare old people and the uneducated on healthcare, and now on immigration. If AZ was in such a terrible situation with illegal immigration, where were John McCain and John Kyl (their Senators) in doing something about in Congress with immigration reform??? Republicans don't really want reform. Their business buddies make too much money off the use of slave wage labor by illegal immigrants and cheating the govt out of employer taxes on these employees. Remember too that these hypocrites now screaming for deportation – Reagan have amnesty to 10M illegals and McCain wrote an immigration bill in 2007 for amnesty as well. He even campaigned on it – but of course now he is hiding from it and lying about it.

    Never trust a Republican. They will betray you every time. Republicans don't care about YOU. Can you name ONE thing they have done for middle class America this year? Do not reward these corporate loving traitors. Vote for the Democrats who have done real work to restore this country and help YOU.

    August 8, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. jay

    End the greed and exploitation, end free trade.

    August 8, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. mj

    Obama's complete lack of experience in business & finances is destroying our economy. As a past successful small business owner I can tell you the last thing needed is a bank loan. Hasn't he learned that the bailouts, tarp, socialized medicine is not going to put American on it's feet? We need real jobs. The way to stimulate the economy is not by government control. Why would he fly to the small business in Washington? For a mere few miles he wanted to take the helicopter. Talk about wasteful spending. Not to mention Michelle vacationing at a 5 star resort in Spain. Do you not even think about how much this cost American taxpayers? Please spare me the BIOB lecture. This is now – Obama is responsible and should stand up to it.

    August 8, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. Dave

    Why Jackie Walorski is WRONG for us! People are quick to forget just what Jackie Walorski's first move as an Indiana State junior senator was. The people of St Joseph and Elkhart counties were VERY CLEAR...we did not support the time change Mitch Daniels foisted upon us. Jackie "conveniently" missed her FIRST committee vote by just not showing up. She could have voted NO, but she chose to hide and MISS the vote while it was still in legislative committee. By not showing up and voting with her constituents, she let the time change happen by default. She was AWOL on her very first vote as a politician. We dont need that. And we dont need Jackie Walorski. Blue dog Joe has my vote...

    August 8, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. Robert Wooller

    Could not believe how many jobs were lost in the last few months. But at least in America the systems are in place to protect those made unemployed. In Britain a government is in place which says ' we are in it together' and yet the government removes help.

    August 8, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |