Day-in-the-Life Donnelly Campaign

By: Robert Borrelli
By: Robert Borrelli

Chocola's opponent this time around is the same man who challenged him in 2004. Democrat Joe Donnelly has been ahead in the polls, as the race heads toward Election Day.

NewsCenter 16's Robert Borrelli spent the day with Donnelly.

As the emcee introduces him, "Candidate for the Congress, Joe Donnelly," it's the life Challenger Joe Donnelly has lived since the last congressional election back in 2004.

"We need a breath of fresh air,” said Senator Evan Bayh. “That fresh air will be Joe Donnelly.”

However, the second time around, the support is greater.

On this day, Senator Bayh stands with him, in a race tighter than two-years ago, with the balance of congressional power at stake.

"We don't have the financial resources that Mr. Chocola has, so we have to work almost non-stop on the ground, greeting people, saying hello. So, it's been a real grass roots campaign," said Donnelly.

Polls say Donnelly is ahead, but not by much, in a contest that's gotten ugly.

"It is unfortunate what has happened to our electoral system, and the money drives a negative campaign. It's a shame that what's been done as people are trying to keep voters from turning out by being so negative and nasty. And, you know, we need to run positive, issues oriented campaigns, that's what this country and the voters of this country deserve," says Donnelly. "I’ve got positive spots running right now. So, we've mixed in a lot of positive, but at the same time, when you're in a boxing match you occasionally have to punch back and that's what we've tried to do."

In the process, Donnelly has lost 10-pounds, and a lot of shoe leather. “The sad part about it is, I looked through all of them and this is the best pair I had right now, so…" he laughs.

With Campaign Manager Katie Nee at the wheel, and more than 143,000 miles on his SUV, Donnelly visited Elkhart for a luncheon, shaking hands, asking for votes, and now, it's off again.

Donnelly: "I'll see you later," Donnelly tells his wife Jill.

She responds, "Bye", while bidding him farewell with a kiss.

"Be careful," he tells her.

She says, "See you later."

Donnelly's wife, Jill travels separately back to campaign headquarters.

While volunteers remind people to vote, the candidate receives the support of union firefighters.

"I stand with working men and women," Donnelly tells them.

Donnelly also has the backing of former Congressman Tim Roemer.

"If you want change in our national security policy and you want to fix that situation, we need to send Joe Donnelly to the United States Congress,” Roemer said.

Emphasizing that it's "time for a change", Donnelly is "energized" by the campaign. "It's been an incredible experience and I'm a better person for it," he says.

Donnelly says he has better funding and name recognition this time around, compared with his contest against Chocola in 2004.

He says his biggest joy this campaign is getting to meet people in the district.

His biggest disappointment: the role money plays in campaigns.


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