by Jay Zimmer

For the first time in 35 years, one of Indiana’s senate seats is producing a real dogfight.  With incumbent Dick Lugar defeated and headed home, the seat is wide open to the campaign slugger who’s on his feet at the finish.

In one corner is Republican Richard Mourdock, State Treasurer and Evansville polymath, still a little battle-scarred from his hard-fought primary battle which dusted the long-time Republican Rhoads Scholar from his hitherto secure Capitol Hill perch.

And in this corner, Indiana’s 2nd District Congressman since 2007, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate Democrats on the hill.

The New York State-born Donnelly attended Notre Dame University and Notre Dame Law School and practiced law for several years before opening his own business.  But the lure of politics was powerful.

Donnelly brings an impressive resume to the race, having served on the Indiana State Election Board, and on the school board in his home county.  He ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Congress in 2004, and lost the General Election that November to incumbent Chris Chocola.  That year, Donnelly was a late-comer to the campaign, and thus did not garner serious support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  But two years later, the DCCC came through and Donnelly, in a rematch with Chocola, came out victorious.  He won again by respectable majorities in 2008 and 2010.

As a member of the House of Representatives, Donnelly is assigned to the Committee on Financial Services, and the Committee on Veterans Affairs.

His intention to move up – to run for the soon-to-be-vacated Lugar seat in the U.S. Senate means that Donnelly will not be a candidate for his on Congressional seat in 2012.