ELKHART — She won the race for Indiana’s 2nd District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Now, the big issues Republican Jackie Walorski plans to push, at least at this early stage, are for a balanced budget, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and easing of regulations on businesses.
“I can’t wait to take your voices to the federal level, I can’t wait to take you to the federal level,” she told her supporters late Tuesday night after returns came in showing she narrowly defeated Democrat Brendan Mullen. “I can’t wait till we have the chance to fulfill the promises that we made.”
She made particular note of the many calls she’s heard on the campaign trail for creation of jobs, saying that would be an emphasis. She also noted the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, President Obama’s healthcare overhaul.
“Together, we will repeal Obamacare, we will repeal Obamacare and bring together a solution, a bipartisan solution, with all Americans represented,” she said.
Later, she added that she’d emphasize pursuing a balanced budget and taking a closer look at the regulatory environment facing business, with an eye to easing governmental oversight.
Walorski, from the Jimtown area outside Elkhart, garnered 49 percent of the vote in winning the 2nd District race, reversing the narrow loss she suffered two years ago at the hands of Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly, who ran for U.S. Senate this cycle and won. Mullen mustered 47.6 percent of the vote, while Libertarian Joe Ruiz had around 3.4 percent, according to preliminary totals.
The race was a nail-biter, close practically from start to finish as returns came in Tuesday, and Walorski, speaking at her election-night party at the RV Hall of Fame east of Elkhart, thanked her supporters. They cheered loudly, chanting, “Jackie! Jackie!”
“We finished the line together tonight, and this is really only the start,” Walorski said. “All of us will roll up our sleeves tomorrow morning, and we’re going to be working to take the message of commonsense Hoosiers ... to Washington D.C., because Hoosiers got it right.”
A TESTY, INTENSE CAMPAIGN
Tuesday’s win for Walorski capped a testy and intense campaign, characterized by sharp attacks from both main party contenders.
Walorski ran on her three terms as a member of the Indiana House, saying efforts by state lawmakers to balance Indiana’s budget and control spending could be a blueprint for efforts at the national level. She had derided Mullen, who runs a consulting firm and had lived five years in Washington D.C., as a “D.C. insider.”
Mullen, a U.S. Army veteran who grew up in South Bend, had run on his business and military background and his vow to be a bipartisan player. He had accused Walorski, with strong tea party support, of being a charged and overly-partisan figure, incapable of working across the political aisle.
Some political watchers had given Walorski the edge in the race. She came into the contest with better name recognition stemming from her failed 2010 U.S. House bid and her three terms in the Indiana House. Moreover, the 2nd District was redrawn after the 2010 census, making it more friendly to Republicans.
Mullen, though, campaigned hard, and neither he nor Walorski let up in the lead-up to Tuesday’s voting. Walorski had raised $1.63 million for her campaign while the Democrat had $1.15 million.
The 2nd District includes Elkhart County, seven other north-central Indiana counties and parts of two others. Elkhart County, which has been divided between the 2nd and 3rd U.S. House districts, was moved completely into the district in the changes after the 2010 census.