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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, April 03, 2019 3:20 pm

Braun: Senate seat 'well worth the price of admission'

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun said Wednesday he has enjoyed his first few months on Capitol Hill even if Congress is "a gummed-up process."

"I think it's been going great," he said during a conference call with Indiana news reporters.

Braun, R-Ind., said he plans to concentrate on legislation affecting health care, infrastructure and the budget, "and if I can do well in those three arenas, I think it's going to be well worth the price of admission."

He said that price was an "acrimonious" campaign in 2018 that was "a long, hard journey to get here."

Braun is the wealthy owner of a Jasper-based auto parts distribution business who lent millions of dollars to his campaign. He defeated U.S. Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer in the Republican primary election and Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in the general election to reach the Senate. 

"The problem is, it is such a gummed-up process," he said about Congress. "It becomes so polarized. ... It's very congenial, even reaching out across the other side of the aisle, when you're not talking about anything important on policy. Once it becomes a significant policy issue, pretty well everybody gets into their own camp, nothing gets done.

"That's disappointing. You could never run a school board, a state government, any business in that fashion. And to be honest, I don't see that changing for a while. I think it's been so built into the dynamic here," Braun said.

He praised Donnelly's constituent work.

"Sen. Donnelly ran a very good operation back in Indiana. He interfaced with agriculture well, many of the other business interest groups. I built my business on customer service; that's how you distinguish yourself. ... I made it clear we want to emulate what Sen. Donnelly did and even make it better. I think we're off to a great start," Braun said.

He said Donnelly's staff worked with his staff "to get our Senate office off to a good start, and I appreciate that."

 bfrancisco@jg.net