GOP Opponent Presses Sen. Joe Donnelly on Gina Haspel Confirmation Vote

Republican Mike Braun says Donnelly playing 'political game' with CIA nominee

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Sen. Joe Donnelly / Getty Images

The newly anointed Republican challenger to Sen. Joe Donnelly (D., Ind.) is pressing the sitting senator to make a decision on whether he will vote to confirm Gina Haspel as CIA director.

Mike Braun, an Indiana businessman who out-dueled two sitting congressmen to win Tuesday's Republican primary, is using Haspel's confirmation vote to take aim at Donnelly, who has yet to announce whether he will support President Donald Trump's nominee for the CIA post.

"Joe Donnelly, as he always does, is dodging the press on where he stands on Haspel and playing the political game," Braun said on Thursday. "Will he stand once again with the liberal extreme of his party, or will he put Hoosiers first and vote to confirm Gina Haspel?"

Donnelly, like other Democratic senators running for reelection in states Trump carried by a large margin, is put in a difficult position by the Haspel nomination, which is opposed by many in the Democratic caucus but has already been backed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), who finds himself in a similar position as Donnelly.

Braun put the pressure on Donnelly to make a decision, saying he would support Haspel if he held the seat and praising Trump's choice.

"If I was in the Senate I would vote to confirm Gina Haspel to be the CIA director," Braun said. "This historic choice by President Trump would provide strong leadership to a vital arm of our national security infrastructure."

"Hoosiers deserve a senator who will stand up and lead, not a career politician who is constantly trying to evaluate whether a decision is right for reelection or their left-wing donor base."

Donnelly was one of the first Democrats to announce his support for Mike Pompeo's confirmation as secretary of state, but he has already voted against seven of Trump's nominees, according to a tracker kept by the New York Times.

Donnelly was also called out by the Republican National Committee for his hesitancy to support Haspel, who was introduced by former Indiana Democratic senator Evan Bayh at her confirmation hearing.

"Every time there is an important vote in the Senate, Donnelly runs out the clock on his decision and waits for the vote to be pre-decided," said RNC spokesman Michael Joyce. "Hoosiers need a senator like Mike Braun who will be honest with them, not a do-nothing senator who’s afraid of his own shadow."

Donnelly's office did not respond to an inquiry on his vote.