Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Say goodnight, Dick Lugar

Everyone knew it was coming, but the time is upon us. After three and a half decades in the U.S. Senate representing Indiana, Republican Richard Lugar has lost his party's primary bid to run in the general election in November.

With about half the votes counted, the winner, Richard Mourdock, had 59% of the vote to Lugar's 40%, which was enough to call the race.

Lots of outside money involved in this one. Indiana has also been trending more conservative of late, but perhaps the biggest problem for Lugar was incumbency itself. It used to be that incumbency was a guarantee of success, or very nearly. Now it's a weight around any Republican candidate's neck as the incumbent attempts to prove he or she has not been co-opted by Washington or jaded by inside-the-beltway experiences.

Tea Party favourite Richard Mourdock will now face three-term Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly in the fall. It would be nice if Mourdock were the kind of crazy right-winger who beat himself, much as Christine O'Donnell did in Delaware and Sharon Angle in Nevada. Unfortunately, Mourdock has been elected to state-wide office twice and will probably not trip up like the aforementioned pretenders.

As noted, Indiana is trending redder, and it would be a surprise if the GOP lost this Senate seat.

In explaining race dynamics, RealClearPolitics said this:

Mourdock used Lugar’s moderate streak against him. The campaign went after the senator's support for TARP and the DREAM Act, and his votes for President Obama's two Supreme Court justice nominees, for example. FreedomWorks, the National Rifle Association, and other conservative groups rallied behind Mourdock and spent millions campaigning against his opponent. Club for Growth recently ran ads accusing Lugar of "clinging to power." Lugar had support from super PACs, and the candidate's campaign spent roughly $2.4 million on the race, using ads to paint Mourdock as beholden to outside interest groups.

Strike another blow for a dysfunctional Congress.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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