Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) intends to announce Monday that he is running against Sen. Richard Lugar (R), two Democratic sources with knowledge of the decision have confirmed. The news was first reported by the AP.
Following redistricting, Donnelly's South Bend district stands to be become more Republican -- a factor that was a notable part of his decision-making process as he considered his political future. What's more, Republican Jackie Walorski, who Donnelly narrowly defeated in 2010, will once again run for the 2nd District seat in 2012.
Donnelly's decision to run for the Senate is good news for his party. In a state with a thin Democratic bench, Donnelly is considered by party strategists to be the best candidate for the race, among those seriously considering a bid. He also didn't have too difficult of a choice, thanks to changes in the composition of his congressional district.
In the Republican primary, Lugar is facing a challenge from Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who is running to his right. Democratic strategists believe the prospect of a bloody GOP primary in Indiana and a potential Mourdock victory provides them with an opening in the race. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Patty Murray identified Indiana as a prospective pickup opportunity at a briefing last month.
While a Mourdock victory would open the door for Democrats, who would likely have less of a shot against the more moderate Lugar, either scenario would present an uphill climb for the party. Republicans have enjoyed recent success in Indiana, and swept every statewide race in 2010.
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