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Senate Majority PAC Joins TV War Over Outsourcing in Indiana Senate Race

Democratic super PAC debuts two statewide TV spots Tuesday

Former state Rep. Mike Braun is the Republican nominee for Senate in Indiana against Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Former state Rep. Mike Braun is the Republican nominee for Senate in Indiana against Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The outsourcing of American jobs — along with allegations of having done so — has become a common refrain in the Indiana Senate race.

The latest paid communication on the issue comes from Senate Majority PAC. The Democratic super PAC is debuting two statewide TV ads on Tuesday — one positive spot about incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly and one negative ad attacking the GOP nominee, former state Rep. Mike Braun. The ads, obtained first by Roll Call, are backed by a $450,000 buy.

The negative ad opens by poking fun at Braun’s now-infamous blue shirt, which he wore to a GOP primary debate earlier this year. It quickly became his way of distinguishing himself from his opponents. 

“Mike Braun and his blue shirt. Pretending he’s the All-American guy,” the narrator says. “Well, over the last two years, Braun made nearly $20 million dollars.”

“And a big chunk of that came from outsourcing,” the narrator continues. 

The ad cites an Associated Press story from May about Braun’s company, Meyer Distributing, importing auto parts from China. (SMP released an earlier statewide TV ad that publicized the AP findings a week after Braun won the primary.) 

“Don’t let the blue shirt fool you,” the narrator continues. “It’s Mike Braun who’s Mr. Outsourcing and he’s really not for you.”

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SMP has previously hit Braun for workplace violations, which were also reported by the AP, in an ad that said, “A blue shirt can’t hide a bad record.” 

The latest positive spot from SMP attacks GOP ads hitting Donnelly as “baloney” and “paid for by out-of-state billionaires.”

“I know it’s Joe Donnelly who wrote legislation giving businesses a tax credit for bringing jobs back here,” one man says in the ad, referring to the so-called End Outsourcing Act that Donnelly introduced in January 2017.

SMP is also trying to link Braun’s business record to his wealth and self-funding. He loaned his campaign nearly $6 million for the GOP primary.

“Mike Braun’s record shows that he chose to personally profit instead of buying American goods, and he is now trying to buy a Senate seat with the tens of millions he made while outsourcing,” SMP spokesman Chris Hayden said in a statement. “For Hoosiers concerned about bringing jobs home, Joe Donnelly is the only choice.”

SMP’s latest two ads follow a six-figure statewide TV ad from Donnelly’s campaign that began airing Saturday and tries to paint a contrast between the incumbent and Braun on outsourcing.

It opens by responding to one of Republicans’ biggest attacks on the senator, based on an AP report from last summer, about a Donnelly family business using Mexican labor. Donnelly owned stock in and earned dividends from the company. Following the report, he sold his stake in his brother’s arts and crafts company.

Donnelly has maintained he hasn’t played an active role in the company in 20 years — a claim that the ad (called “20 Years,”) repeats, saying, “Joe hasn’t worked at the Indiana printing company in 20 years.” The ad then pivots to attacking Braun for “importing cheap foreign auto parts” and “selling Indiana out.”

Senate Leadership Fund, the GOP super PAC tied to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, attacked Donnelly last week with an ad knocking him as “Mexico Joe.”

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Toss-up.

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