Institute of Politics

Joe Donnelly

Former U.S. Senator from Indiana

As a husband, father, and former small business owner, Joe Donnelly understands what it means to be a Hoosier: a commitment to family, faith and hard work. These values were instilled in Joe starting at a young age from his father, a small business owner himself, and his mother, a homemaker.

Joe met his wife, Jill, while in college in South Bend. After getting married in 1979, they raised their two children in northern Indiana, in the home that Jill’s father helped build.

Joe ran a printing shop in Mishawaka for many years, so he understands that when it comes to balancing a budget or hiring workers, Hoosier small businesses aren’t concerned with whether an idea comes from the right or the left, but if it’s good or bad. As president of the local school board, Joe showed the leadership needed to create a bright future for the next generation of Hoosiers and brought people together to find commonsense solutions. In 2006, he brought that perspective to Washington when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Indiana’s Second District. He knew people back home didn’t care about party allegiances - just whether he’d work hard and deliver results for Indiana.

Joe relied on that same philosophy when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012. In the seat Richard Lugar once occupied, Joe’s focused on finding bipartisan solutions that will grow Indiana’s middle class. He’s worked hard to maintain his connection to the state and listen to Hoosiers’ concerns. Last year, Joe visited every one of Indiana’s 92 counties - just as he has each of the last three years - and held more than 550 events during his 223 days back in the Hoosier State.

In the Senate, Joe serves on the Armed Services, Agriculture, Aging, and Banking Committees. He’s made supporting the mental health of the members of our armed services and those who have served our country one of his highest priorities in Washington. Joe has also been dedicated to strengthening Indiana manufacturing and fighting the scourge of opioid abuse.

Going forward, Joe will continue fighting for Hoosiers, finding bipartisan solutions that focus on what matters most to them: finding and keeping a good-paying job, taking care of their families, and retiring with dignity and health.


"From the Heartland: America’s Public Policy Challenges"

Six years in the House and six years in the Senate representing Indiana allowed me an opportunity to dive into issues important to the heartland and the nation as a whole from a different perspective than a blue-state Democrat. How can Democrats communicate to voters and move the needle on legislation? How do we move past the nation’s deep divisions and make progress? What are the values we all share as Americans, and how should they impact our policies? And what are the biggest challenges the country faces in the near term, and more importantly, in the long term and what policies do we need to address them?

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