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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mullen in ’14? That’s what some backers hope

Democrats from Elkhart and St. Joseph counties would like to see Brendan Mullen make another run at GOPer Jackie Walorski in the 2nd District U.S. House race two years from now.

Posted on Nov. 13, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.

Brendan Mullen in 2014?

After his narrow loss to Republican Jackie Walorski last week in the race for Indiana’s 2nd District seat in the U.S. House, that’s the hope of some Democratic leaders, presuming Mullen’s up to it.

Zanzer Anderson of Elkhart, for one, would like Mullen to give it another shot when the post comes up for grabs again in two years. Walorski won the U.S. House race, beating Mullen by a 49 percent to 47.6 percent margin, mustering 133,860 votes to 129,976.

“He is meant for public office. He can do great things in Washington,” said Anderson, vice chair of the Democratic Party’s 2nd congressional district deliberative body. “We see a chance to possibly take that seat back.”

Similarly, Elkhart County Democratic Party Chairwoman Shari Mellin and St. Joseph County Democratic Chairman John Broden are enthusiastic about Mullen, a U.S. Army veteran and small-business owner who was making his first bid for elective office.

He’d be “fully supportive” if Mullen decides to try again, Broden said.

“He came so very close,” said Mellin. “With two more years, we’ll see what happens.”

Mullen, the married father of two young children, didn’t return a call seeking comment, and likewise, his backers said he’d have to weigh the matter seriously. “I’m sure they as a family will be having some discussions about their future,” said Broden.

But vying for the 2nd District seat after narrowly losing wouldn’t be without precedent. Walorski’s win last week came after narrowly losing to the incumbent Democrat, Joe Donnelly, in 2010. Similarly, Donnelly, who won his race for the U.S. Senate last week, first won election to the U.S. House spot in 2006 after beating incumbent Republican Chris Chocola. Donnelly had lost to Chocola in 2004.

In Mullen’s favor would be the name recognition he built in running this year, Broden said.

Also weighing in the matter would be the political climate in two years, said Sean Savage, a political scientist at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame. If things are swinging the Republican Party’s way in 2014, that could hamper his ability to raise money. On the other hand, if Democrats have the upper hand, that could work in Mullen’s favor.

Either way, incumbents generally have the advantage when seeking re-election, and that’s particularly the case in U.S. House contests. At the same time, redistricting after the 2010 census has tilted the district more to the GOP, notably with the removal of Michigan City from the 2nd District, Savage said.

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