Veterans groups split on Senate pick

 ·  Brian Francisco, The Journal Gazette   ·   Link to Article

FORT WAYNE - Military veterans groups are split in their support for candidates for a U.S. Senate seat from Indiana.

Two veterans organizations have endorsed Republican Richard Mourdock in recent weeks, and two have endorsed Democrat Joe Donnelly.

Neither candidate served in the military. Rep. Donnelly, D-2nd, is a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Donnelly won the backing of Veterans' Vision and Veterans and Military Families for Progress. State Treasurer Mourdock has been endorsed by the National Vietnam & Gulf War Veterans Coalition's board of directors and Help Indiana Vets.

It would appear that veterans groups are as politically partisan and divided as the rest of the country.

"They are a cross-section of America," IPFW political scientist Michael Wolf said Wednesday.

Wolf said the endorsements carry weight because of a large U.S. veterans population and the fact that "there aren't a whole lot of areas in American political life that receive as much support generally among Americans as do veterans."

The pro-Mourdock National Vietnam & Gulf War Veterans Coalition has endorsed 17 candidates for the Senate, according to its website, and all are Republicans. Help Indiana Vets has endorsed only Mourdock for the Senate and Rep. Andre Carson, D-7th, for re-election to the House.

The pro-Donnelly Veterans' Vision has endorsed 14 Democrats and four Republicans in this fall's Senate races.

The pro-Donnelly Veterans and Military Families for Progress endorsed only Democratic candidates in the 2010 elections.

Also, has spent $314,000 to oppose Mourdock's candidacy, according to the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for government transparency.

Health care vote

On Wednesday, the Indiana Right to Life Political Action Committee and National Right to Life endorsed Mourdock.

Both Mourdock and Donnelly oppose abortion rights. Karen Cross, National Right to Life political director, said in a statement that Donnelly "betrayed pro-lifers" by voting for President Obama's health care law.

"The abortion industry is being heavily subsidized by federal taxpayers because of Obamacare," Cross said in a phone interview.

Elizabeth Shappell, communications director for Donnelly's campaign, said in an email, "There is no federal funding for abortion in the health care reform law."

Under the law, people who receive federal subsidies for health care will be able, through state exchanges, to buy insurance that covers elective abortions. The law allows exchanges to prohibit abortion coverage, and it and an executive order by Obama stipulate that abortions can be funded only by privately paid premiums and that federal dollars be segregated from that money - a provision critics term an accounting gimmick.


Mourdock's campaign told the news organization Politico for a story Wednesday that it raised more than $3 million in campaign contributions during the third quarter. The amount increases Mourdock's total to $6.8 million.

Donnelly's campaign said it will release its third-quarter figure this week. Donnelly had collected $2.64 million going into the quarter.



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