The Hill’s 50 races to watch


Indiana Senate

Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyGOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace Trump steps up courtship of Dems Trump having dinner with Schumer, Pelosi on Wednesday MORE (D) vs. Richard Mourdock (R)

A tough Democratic challenger and flawed Tea Party Republican nominee are making Indiana’s Senate race surprisingly close.

Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) is running a strong campaign in the Republican-leaning state — and he’s been helped by some early missteps by Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R), who shortly after his primary win over Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) proclaimed on TV that “bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”

Donnelly has jumped on those and other comments in ads attacking the Tea Party favorite as a “my way or the highway” candidate, and has framed himself as a centrist dealmaker, touting votes he took against his party in the House and blasting Mourdock for his lawsuit against the auto bailout.

Mourdock has sought to tie Donnelly to President Obama and ripped him for supporting Democrats’ healthcare reform law, but he’s been mostly on the defensive, and his campaign has recently limited access to the once-chatty candidate — a sign it’s seeking to limit exposure to avoid any more gaffes.

Polls show a tight race, and both sides have seen a recent ramp-up in spending from outside groups as well as both party committees.

The Hill rates the race as a toss-up.