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(INDIANAPOLIS) – They lost a Senate seat they badly wanted to hold, but Indiana Democrats say the election news wasn’t all bad for them. 

State Chairman John Zody acknowledges he’s disappointed at Joe Donnelly’s loss to Republican Senator-elect Mike Braun. He says Democrats learned from Evan Bayh’s loss to Todd Young two years ago, and made operational changes, including beefing up their ability to communicate with voters. Braun’s margin currently stands at eight percentage points, just two fewer than Young’s, but Zody says he’s comfortable with Donnelly’s messaging and strategy. 

Zody says Democrats will again study the loss to refine their strategy. He says in Indiana and nationally, there’s a realignment of voting patterns, which Democrats need to understand and address.

Democrats haven’t won statewide in six years, and with Joe Donnelly’s loss, have no statewide officeholders. Zody says rebuilding the party from superminority status doesn’t happen overnight. He says Democrats aggressively recruited younger candidates and activists last year, and notes Democrats did gain a state Senate seat and at least two in the House. Counting candidates who replaced retiring fellow Democrats, the party will have at least eight new legislators, and Zody says some losing candidates will be heard from again. He says the effort to rebuild the bench and prepare for the 2020 election will begin with next year’s mayoral races.

Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)