IN THE NEWS: “Lifelong Republican” Rep. Braun voted Democratic for at least 16 years

INDIANAPOLIS – Despite billing himself as a “conservative Republican” in his ads, Rep. Braun pulled a Democratic ballot from at least 1996 until 2012 in Dubois County elections, and likely voted for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in 2008, the AP reports. The new story could throw further fuel on the fire of Rep. Braun’s conservative credentials after controversy has swirled over the gas tax increase he voted for in the Indiana Statehouse.

Rep. Braun’s “excuse” for being a Democrat, that Dubois County was a solid Democratic county until so recently that the only competitive races were in Democratic primaries, rings laughably hollow. Dubois has been a swing county for much of the 16 years that Rep. Braun pulled Democratic ballots there; Jasper and Huntingburg, for instance, have had mayors of both parties during the past several years.

From the AP: Indiana GOP Senate candidate voted Democrat until 2012

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A wealthy Indiana Senate candidate who bills himself in television ads as a conservative Republican voted for more than a decade in the state’s Democratic primaries, according to public documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Records from the Dubois County Clerk’s office, where candidate Mike Braun is registered to vote, show the 63-year-old consistently cast Democratic ballots in partisan primary elections until 2012. He began voting in Democratic primaries in at least 1996, according to county records that date back only 25 years. That includes the 2008 primary where Hillary Clinton narrowly defeated Barack Obama following a heated campaign.

That could cause trouble for Braun, a businessman and former state lawmaker who elbowed his way into a competitive GOP Senate primary by investing more than $800,000 of his own money. In recent years, Indiana Republican primaries have been GOP purity competitions; whoever wins in May will go on to face Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly during the 2018 general election.

Braun, who owns a national auto parts distribution business, has already drawn heat over his vote this year in favor of a 10-cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase, which occurred before he stepped down from the Legislature this fall to focus on his Senate campaign. That vote, combined with the revelation that he didn’t vote as a Republican until 2012, could open him up to charges of being a “RINO,” a derisive acronym for “Republican In Name Only” often used by conservative activities.

Braun, who served nearly three years in the Legislature, was able to qualify for the ballot in 2014 without special permission because he had pulled a Republican ballot during the 2012 primary.
Still, Braun’s campaign denies that he ever changed allegiances. They insist he has always voted Republican during general elections, though there is no way of knowing because those ballots are kept secret.

“As is often the case in solidly blue counties, like DuBois was at the time, Mike cast his vote in competitive local primaries where it would have the greatest impact, while voting solidly Republican in general elections,” Kelley said.

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