County GOP leaders tell Eyewitness News it's no surprise voters picked Romney for president. But they are surprised voters turned blue against a man with local roots for the U.S. Senate race. Darmstadt native, Richard Mourdock, lost to democrat Joe Donnelly by nearly three percentage points.
"I was quite surprised and disappointed that Mourdock didn't carry his own county. But it's an indication that everything you say is so important and that debate comment he made just turned out to be disastrous," says Wayne Parke, Chairman of the Vanderburgh County Republican Party.
Mourdock defeated longtime senator Dick Lugar in the May primary. The GOP saw Mourdock as the party's saving grace in its efforts to retake the Senate. "I kept thinking that, you know, he's gonna be a horse that comes in here, lasts and survives -- but he didn't," says Parke.
Some polls suggested Mourdock's bid for Lugar's Senate seat was within reach until the final days of his campaign. Mourdock's support quickly took a turn for the worse after he made a controversial comment suggesting pregnancies, including those caused by rape, were an act of God. "Life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen," said Mourdock.
"I have to respect his beliefs, but from a political standpoint it was a mistake," says Parke.
Mitt Romney and now Governor-elect Mike Pence immediately distanced themselves from Mourdock. His campaign switched gears from 'promising' to 'damage control. He would play defense through Election Day, but the damage was already done.
"I will look back on this night over the weeks, the months, the years ahead, I will look back knowing that I was attacked for standing for my principals," Mourdock told supporters during his concession speech Tuesday night.
After months of tireless campaigning, GOP leaders say it only took a few seconds ruin Mourdock's reputation. The poorly timed comments were a kiss of death for the candidate once seen as a sure-win for the GOP. Joe Donnelly is the first democrat in more than a decade to win a statewide race in Indiana.