INDIANAPOLIS. Ind. (WHAS11) – The Indiana U.S. Senate debate on Monday night is between the two candidates who want to be senator in Indiana and right now they are neck and neck in the polls.
It's a seat that has been solid Republican since Richard Lugar won it in 1977.
After Tea Party Republican Richard Mourdock booted Republican legend Richard Lugar in the GOP primary, his challenge now is to convince moderate Republicans.
Blue Dog Democrat Congressman Joe Donnelly is also reaching out to the center hoping that Hoosiers who wouldn't vote for Barack Obama will split their ballot and vote for him.
After 36 years in the U.S. Senate, Richard Lugar lost his seat in May's Republican primary, but the centrist voters who supported him all those years will decide who succeeds him.
“Richard Lugar was the epitome about everything that's right about public service,” U.S. Rep. Joe Donnely (D) said.
The Republican Tea Partier Richard Murdock is also reaching out to the middle.
“And our message to [Independent voters] is simply, Let's get America growing again,” Richard Mourdock, republican U.S. senate candidate, said. “We've tried the Democratic way. It has failed and failed and failed.”
Most of the energy in the race, from both the campaigns and a number of outside groups, has been spent trying to convince centrist voters that the opposing candidate is really more extreme than the image each is trying to portray. Donnelly is linked to President Obama and saddled with his votes in Congress for bailouts and the Affordable Care Act.
Mourdock has tried to soften his primary election message against bipartisanship and compromise.
“I think Hoosiers are not buying into that act of trying to be somebody who he's not.
Early on he said, I am there to try and create more division. I will not work with Democrats. His view of bipartisanship is Democrats doing what Republicans want them to do,” Donnelly said.
“I think the bigger issue in that regard is how Joe Donnelly wants to claim he is now a conservative. That's not the case. His conservative rating is only 13 percent, meaning 87 percent of the time he's voted with the liberals. Yet he is suddenly claiming to be this moderate. It's not the case,” Mourdock said.
It's not only an important race for Indiana; it could also decide which party controls the U.S. Senate. The second and final debate is Oct. 23 at IU Southeast in New Albany.