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Indiana US Senate candidates set for only televised debate

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young will face his two reelection opponents on Sunday in what is their only scheduled televised debate ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

The debate comes as Democrat Thomas McDermott, the mayor of Hammond, has struggled to gain traction against Young, who has huge fundraising and organization advantages in seeking his second term.

Libertarian James Sceniak is also taking part in the debate, which is organized by the nonprofit Indiana Debate Commission and being broadcast on several TV stations around the state.

Young has followed a front-runner strategy of mostly ignoring McDermott, who has been Hammond’s mayor since 2004 but is little known outside of northwestern Indiana.

Despite Democrats and Republicans fiercely fighting for control of the current 50-50 Senate, Indiana’s Senate race hasn’t seen the tens of millions in outside spending that it attracted four years ago when Republican Mike Braun defeated Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and in 2016 when Young won the Senate seat over former Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh.

Young avoided a primary challenge this year despite not fully embracing Donald Trump’s presidency — and not getting a Trump endorsement. Young voted to acquit Trump in his Senate impeachment trial but voted to uphold President Joe Biden’s election win.

McDermott, a lawyer and U.S. Navy veteran, has tried to build an appeal to working-class voters attracted to Trump while advocating congressional protection of abortion rights and federal marijuana legalization.

Young has highlighted Senate work, including his push for providing billions in federal money to encourage more semiconductor companies to build chip plants in the United States in the face of an ambitious China.

Tom Davies, The Associated Press