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Molly Moorhead
By Molly Moorhead May 9, 2012

Donnelly says he didn’t vote for Pelosi for Speaker

Democrat Joe Donnelly, who will face a tea party-backed candidate in Indiana’s U.S. Senate contest, is having to answer questions about his political loyalties -- specifically to Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader who is a lightning rod of conservative criticism.

Indiana’s Republican Party Chairman, Eric Holcomb, linked Donnelly’s politics to Pelosi’s following an Indiana Democratic Party fundraiser headlined by Pelosi on May 5, 2012.

"Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi – they all have one thing in common and that is records that are out of step with Indiana," Holcomb said, according to Indiana Public Media.

Donnelly, who has served in the House since 2006, responded by saying, "Well, I did not vote for her for speaker and so, you know, my focus is on the Senate race, what we’re doing here and on job creation."

The Club for Growth, a conservative Washington group backing Donnelly opponent Richard Mourdock, immediately pounced, sending out a statement pointing to Donnelly’s votes for House Speaker in 2007 and 2009.

We decided to sort it out.

About the election

The Senate race in Indiana is getting national attention after Mourdock defeated six-term Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican known for being willing to work with Democrats. Mourdock, the former Indiana state treasurer, ran on a message demonizing bipartisanship. He beat Lugar by 20 points.

Many political analysts think Democrats have a better chance of winning the seat now that the race pits a tea party conservative against Donnelly, a moderate who favors gun rights and abortion restrictions.

When he ran for re-election in 2010, Donnelly touted his credentials as an independent who opposed Pelosi on immigration and climate legislation.

But did he vote for her?

The Club for Growth cited House records of Donnelly’s votes in 2007 and 2009. They leave no doubt: Donnelly voted for Pelosi to be speaker of the House.

In 2011, however, he pulled his support and voted for Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina.

In voting for Shuler, Donnelly said, "This afternoon, I cast my vote for Representative Heath Shuler of North Carolina for speaker of the House in the 112th Congress. I supported my friend Congressman Shuler over former Speaker Nancy Pelosi during our party's leadership elections in November citing a need for new leadership. This need remains the same. What the voters told us in the 2010 election was that they wanted a change. And I believe a moderate approach with a dedication to working across the aisle, something I know is important to both me and Congressman Shuler, is the best way forward."

Republicans won a majority in the House in 2010 and elected John Boehner of Ohio to the speaker’s post. Pelosi still won a majority of her colleagues’ support (Shuler received only 11 votes) and was elected House minority leader.

Our ruling

It’s true that in the most recent House election, he voted for someone else. But in the two previous votes -- the ones in which Democrats held a majority and had the power to choose the speaker -- Donnelly supported for Pelosi.

His statement ignored those two votes. We rate his claim Mostly False.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

Indiana Public Media, "Republicans Call Pelosi Fundraiser A Misstep For State Dems," May 7, 2012

National Review Online, "Donnelly: I Didn’t Vote for Pelosi As Speaker (At Least Not Every Time)," May 9, 2012, "Donnelly statement on speaker vote for 112th Congress," Jan. 5, 2011

Clerk of the House website, 2007 Election of the Speaker

Clerk of the House website, 2009 Election of the Speaker

Clerk of the House website, 2011 Election of the Speaker

Email interview with Elizabeth Shappell, Donnelly campaign spokeswoman, May 9, 2012

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