Donnelly targets GOP rival over foreign suppliers in new Senate ad

Indiana Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (D) is out with a new television ad that blasts his opponent, Republican businessman Mike Braun, for relying on importing foreign goods for his auto-parts distribution company.

The ad is the latest salvo in a battle by the two candidates over outsourcing, as both sides try to frame the other as failing to support American business.

Donnelly’s ad, first obtained by The Hill before its release, takes aim at foreign auto-parts companies that Braun’s business, Meyer Distributing, imports and later sells.

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It charts what it calls Braun’s “global network” that includes countries like Mexico and China and accuses Braun of trying to dodge the issue when he said during a February debate that he doesn’t know where the parts his company imports are made.

“While Joe Donnelly has fought for Hoosier jobs every step of the way in the Senate, Rep. Braun made $18 million last year alone by selling cheap foreign auto parts at the expense of Hoosier workers. He can’t fool Hoosiers by feigning ignorance on where his parts come from — no matter what he sells, voters know his parts come from China and other countries,” Donnelly communications director Will Baskin-Gerwitz said in a statement along with the new ad.

Donnelly’s ad is a six-figure buy that will run in every television market that touches the state except for Louisville, Ky., and Cincinnati.

The issue of outsourcing has become a centerpiece of the high-profile race, where Republicans are looking to knock off Donnelly in a state President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE won by 19 points in 2016.

Braun faced attacks during his GOP primary bid for selling imported goods even as he criticized outsourcing in his campaign ads. Donnelly has picked up where the GOP rivals left off with attacks like the one in his new ad.

But Braun’s campaign has pushed back on that characterization in the past, arguing that he’ll stand up for American jobs in the Senate and attacking Donnelly for his family’s ties to outsourcing. It also launched a website aimed at discrediting the attacks, which argues that “95 percent of his suppliers are American.”

“Senator Donnelly is a career politician and his family business profited from sending jobs to Mexico. Mike Braun built an American company and has created thousands of jobs here in America. Like President Trump, Mike will take on the system that has sent jobs out of our country and bring them back,” Braun spokesman Josh Kelley said in a statement in March to the local news outlet Indy Politics when questioned about attacks on Braun’s record.

Republicans have attacked Donnelly on outsourcing ever since a 2017 Associated Press story detailed how his family's company operated a factory in Mexico. Those attacks have surfaced in ads by both Braun and GOP outside groups this cycle, while the National Republican Senatorial Committee dubbed Donnelly “Mexico Joe” as it sought to repeatedly criticize him for the link.

Donnelly’s campaign has defended against those attacks by arguing he hasn’t held an active role in the company in 20 years, long before the outsourcing decision was made. And he sold his stock in the company after the story revealed the ties to Mexican labor.