Jobs No. 1 priority, Donnelly says

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Indiana needs a senator whose top mission is jobs for Hoosiers, Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly said Monday.

That’s why he decided to throw his hat into the ring in a bid for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Richard Lugar.

 “Indiana would benefit from a senator whose No. 1 priority is jobs,” Donnelly said in a conference call with reporters Monday after the official announcement that he will run for Senate.

Donnelly spoke from South Bend before catching a flight back to Washington, D.C.

 Recent redistricting that makes it less likely a Democrat will win in his congressional district the next time around was not the determining factor, Donnelly said in response to a question.

 “That was not the primary consideration. It (the Senate bid) is a chance to work on the issues I’ve been passionate about for the north central part of the state,” he said. “This is more about how I can best serve the state.”

 The Senate bid makes it possible to take the concern about jobs and the economy to a broader audience, he said.

 Democrats are thought to have a shot at the Senate seat because incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar is being challenged by state Treasurer Richard Murdock for the Republican nomination.

 Donnelly said he came to the decision to run for Senate recently, after long consideration and discussions with his wife and children. He said he will serve out his full term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

 Donnelly said he isn’t focused on the Republican side, where Lugar will face a strong challenge in the primary by Murdock, but said he thinks Lugar “has a pretty tough scrape on his hands.”

 He said he is prepared to run against any candidate the Republicans nominate.

Donnelly also considered running for governor. “After looking at both (spots), I thought I would have the strongest impact in the U.S. Senate,” he said.

“I’m one of the most independent members of the House,” Donnelly said, vowing to be the same if elected to the Senate.

 Donnelly, of Granger, has been serving in Indiana’s 2nd District congressional seat since 2007.

 Donnelly dismissed any comparisons between his Senate race and that of former Rep. Brad Ellsworth, another moderate Democrat who lost badly to GOP Sen. Dan Coats in the 2010 Senate race. Donnelly described Ellsworth as a dear friend whom he’ll turn to for advice, but said this is a whole different election.

Originally in South Bend Tribune
By Margaret Fosmoe 

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