Dick Lugar, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, was defeated Tuesday as Indiana Republicans chose state Treasurer Richard Mourdock over Lugar as the party’s nominee.
With 37 percent reporting, Mourdock received 60 percent to 40 percent for Lugar in the Hoosier state’s Senate primary, marking a huge win for tea party supporters and conservatives across the country.
Conservatives had long targeted Lugar for defeat, arguing he represented a Republican establishment in Congress that has acquiesced to the Democratic party. They singled out Lugar’s votes for the bailouts, in support of the president’s stimulus and votes to confirm U.S. Supreme Court nominees Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor as evidence of his “RINO” (Republican in name only) status.
National tea party groups such as FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Express as well as the state group Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate and others mobilized and invested in the race, casting the contest as a nationally significant battle to restore conservatism and hold leaders of the Republican establishment accountable.
Lugar began the race with a major fundraising advantage and drew support from his extensive political network, which led to endorsements from the state’s popular governor, Mitch Daniels, and fellow foreign policy expert Sen. John McCain.
In the race’s last days, Lugar pivoted from arguing that Mourdock was inexperienced and flawed to branding himself as his party’s best hope of defeating Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly in the general election in November.
“Democrats understand Joe Donnelly will beat Richard Mourdock,” Lugar wrote in an email message to supporters Sunday. “This is serious. Losing our Indiana Senate seat to the Democrats is not a risk that Republicans can take.”
Donnelly ran unopposed for his party’s nomination Tuesday.
Democrats view Lugar’s loss as their best chance of capturing the seat, preferring to go up against a newcomer who spent the primary marketing himself to the far right instead of facing a longtime lawmaker who boasts support from independents and Democrats in the state.
It would seem that the Democrats are planning to label Mourdock an extremist for holding views that the majority of Hoosiers hold. Here is part of the statement from Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
“Unfortunately for Republicans, they seem to only have room for Tea Party candidates. That might explain why Mitt Romney has embraced so many far-right positions like endorsing a budget that would end Medicare as we know it to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, getting rid of federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and supporting the Blunt-Rubio Amendment and so-called ‘Personhood’ amendments. Mitt Romney called himself ‘the ideal Tea Party candidate,’ and his policies and positions back up the claim.
“The choice in this election could not be more clear. President Obama wants to move the country forward because America prospers when we’re all in it together; when hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded; when everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street, does their fair share and plays by the same rules. Mitt Romney, Richard Mourdock and the rest of the Tea Party Republicans are offering an economic scheme that is familiar and troubling: more budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy; fewer rules for Wall Street–the same formula that benefitted a few, but crashed our economy and punished the middle class.”
I wonder how she can say something like that with a straight face. It is Obama who has been busting the budget with trillion dollar a year deficits and different rules for his supporters on Wall Street. The TEA Party stands for fiscal sanity and limited government, the sort of things the founding fathers stood for.
The fact that Lugar lost is actually rather amazing. Just six years ago, he was so untouchable that the Democrats didn’t bother to field an opponent against him. I like it a whole lot better when politicians know they could lose their jobs.
In other news, it would seem that Luke Messer won the Republican primary for the sixth district with 42% of the vote. Mitt Romney won the presidential primary, of course, but he got 645 of the vote. Ron Paul got 15% and Rick Santorum got 14%.
- Sen. Richard Lugar Loses Primary Election To State Treasurer Richard Mourdock (mediaite.com)
- Lugar’s defeat: Is the tea party back? (politico.com) It never went away.
- Courier Journal Endorses Lugar (davidscommonplacebook.wordpress.com)