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Ind. Democrats score upset in US Senate race

Associated Press Modified: November 6, 2012 at 9:45 pm •  Published: November 6, 2012
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FISHERS, Ind. (AP) — Republicans reclaimed Indiana in the race for the White House and the Statehouse on Tuesday, but Democrats took a Senate seat that the GOP had held safely for decades.

Joe Donnelly, a three-term Democratic congressman from northern Indiana, beat Republican state treasurer Richard Mourdock, who dislodged longtime Sen. Richard Lugar after he was targeted by the tea party in the GOP primary.

But the GOP maintained control of the governor's office as U.S. Rep. Mike Pence won over Democrat John Gregg, winning support from voters who believed Pence was the right person to follow in the footsteps of Gov. Mitch Daniels.

"A lot of it for me is feeling comfortable with Pence continuing to carry on the initiatives put in place by Gov. Daniels," said Joe Reece, 34, an Indianapolis software salesman.

Donnelly drew some of his votes from former Lugar supporters who couldn't bring themselves to vote for Mourdock.

Janet Sutton, of Indianapolis, said she voted for Lugar last spring and then reluctantly voted for Donnelly on Tuesday, even though she wants Republicans to win a majority in the Senate.

"I sat in there quite a while trying to figure out which way I was going to go," said Sutton, who would only say she was in her 60s. "I did not like some of the issues Mourdock had."

The race had been tight until Mourdock said during a debate that a pregnancy resulting from rape is "something God intended." Democrats pounced on the remark, and voters were disturbed by it even though many doubted Mourdock had intended to say it.

"I actually voted for Donnelly. I normally don't vote Democrat. But Mourdock kind of freaked me out a little bit," said Jon Town, 50, a Hamilton County business owner. Town said he voted a straight Republican except for the Senate race.

Voters who said they were no better off than four years ago when they elected President Barack Obama — the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1964 — turned to Mitt Romney in hopes of better times.

Holly Deschepper, 20, an education major at Indiana University South Bend, said she voted for Romney, but she wasn't enthusiastic about it.

"I picked the lesser of two evils in that case," she said. "I don't support Obama because I really don't like his health care plan. It's so frustrating."

Republican incumbent Tony Bennett, who incurred teachers' wrath by pushing conservative education policies such as linking their pay to students' test scores, conceded defeat to Democrat Glenda Ritz in the race for the state's top education post.

"I have no regrets," Bennett said, while acknowledging that some of his policies had been unpopular.

Voting was heavy across the state, but Valerie Kroeger, a spokeswoman for the Indiana secretary of state's office, said it went smoothly in most places.

There were a few wrinkles, however. A bank robbery and shootout in Muncie made it difficult for voters to get to one polling site, and election officials in Bloomington said a misleading email caused confusion over where Indiana University students were supposed to vote.

Significant voting delays were reported in heavily Republican Hamilton County just north of Indianapolis, where voters were still standing in line at some sites an hour after the deadline for polls to close passed.

A technical glitch delayed the start of voting by about 20 minutes at some sites in the suburban county, but Hamilton County Election Administrator Kathy Richardson blamed long lines on turnout fed by keen interest in the presidential election and a local referendum on whether Fishers should remain a town or become a city.

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Associated Press writers Charles Wilson, Ken Kusmer and Tom Murphy in Indianapolis and Tom Coyne in Mishawaka contributed to this report.

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