Lugar, Mourdock race coming down to the wire

It looks like the race between Dick Lugar and Richard Mourdock is getting ugly as we get closer to next week’s Republican Senate primary in Indiana. According to the National Review, the two exchanged blows recently with Mourdock questioning whether Lugar will support the eventual nominee and Lugar slamming Mourdock over spending cuts.

But the fight that Lugar has suddenly showed in the race may be too little, too late, as The Fix notes that his allies and PACs that were supporting his campaign are pulling out of the state at the last moment, indicating that his career may indeed be finished:

Lugar’s allies no longer seem interested in beating up the man who could very well be their nominee come November.

The American Action Network, a Republican-backing outside group*, is pulling its ads in support of Lugar off the air Tuesday. “We’ve decided we’re going to let this race play out,” said spokesman Dan Conston.
Lugar had millions of dollars more than Mourdock in the bank. He could have used his overwhelming financial edge to define Mourdock months ago, the way Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) did former Rep. J.D. Hayworth in the 2010 primary while shoring up his own conservative bonafides.

The old conventional wisdom for incumbents — don’t punch down and elevate your opponent — no longer applies.

“Campaigns matter. You’ve got to stop [a primary opponent] before the genie gets out of the bottle, or you’re in real trouble,” said one national Republican strategist. “The only way to prevent them from getting money is to knock them out right away.”

While Lugar has gone negative, it was only in response to Mourdock’s attacks. Recent attempts to land a solid hit — for example the “critical” revelation that Mourdock supported the Fairness Doctrine in 1992 — have fallen flat.

Erick Erickson has also defended Mourdock for not voting for John McCain in the 2008 Republican presidential primary, a strange criticism to use in a race especially when you consider that McCain lost the state to Barack Obama in the general election. Erickson fires back with a list of Lugar’s votes that should be more concerning that who Mourdock may or may not have supported in a GOP primary:

[W]hat about Dick Lugar’s voting record. Consider the following:

Dick Lugar voted

  • To support a host of anti-gun legislation including a concealed weapons ban
  • To support the Bridge to Nowhere
  • To oppose school choice for victims of Hurricane Katrina
  • To oppose $13 billion in new mandatory spending cuts
  • To support raiding the social security trust fund to fund general budget appropriations
  • To oppose a one year earmark moratorium
  • To support adding $52 billion in new spending to Barack Obama’s stimulus bill
  • To support TARP
  • To support giving the IMF more money
  • To support the tax credit and tariff on ethanol
  • To support increased foreign aid spending
  • To support an expansion of highway spending that would bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund
  • To support increasing the loan limit to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Richard Mourdock did not go vote for John McCain in a, by that time, uncontested Republican Primary.

Dick Lugar voted to bankrupt America.

Lugar’s record on spending and supporting growth of government is one that Republican voters in Indiana have frequently heard during the primary. It’s also one that Citizens United is pointing out in a new ad running in the state:

You never want to count your eggs before they’re hatched, the lack of independent polling prevents that in this race, but if Lugar — who, like Orrin Hatch, represents everything that’s wrong with the GOP — is going to ever be defeated, this is the year to do it.

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