Will Indiana “Retire Lugar” tonight?
One of the races you should be watching closely this year is the Indiana Senate race. Longtime Senator Dick Lugar is finally getting what appears to be a worthy challenger in a primary election this time around. Lugar has been despised by conservatives for some time, despite the “R” behind his name.
Among other things, Lugar voted to confirm Sotomayor and Kagan to the Supreme Court, has a history of voting to raise the debt ceiling, and voted in favor of the NDAA (indefinite detention of Americans). He was suspected to be supporting SOPA/PIPA (the Internet censorship bills), but he never committed one way or the other. Lack of a spine on that issue didn’t sit well with conservatives, either.
So now he’s in a primary, and it’s a primary he could very well lose. Some recent polling shows challenger Richard Mourdock is in a statistical tie with Lugar while other polling shows Mourdock has a good lead over Lugar. Mourdock wasn’t favored to beat Lugar, but he’s got some things going in his favor in this election.
Anti-Incumbent Sentiment. People still don’t like incumbents, and for the most part, I don’t blame them. Lugar doesn’t have a good history when it comes to his voting record, and Mourdock isn’t shy about pointing that out.
Support from conservative interest groups. The conservative groups see Lugar as being vulnerable this time around, and they’ve put their support behind Mourdock. FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth are two of the big conservative interest groups in Mourdock’s camp.
Of course, if Mourdock wins the Primary, he’s got to win in November. The latest polls I saw (sorry, can’t seem to find the link again) showed Mourdock and the Democrat challenger Joe Donnelly in a tie with a large percentage of those polled as undecided. Yes, it’s early, and that matchup is still hypothetical, but those polls are leading some to speculate that Lugar is the only chance Republicans have of holding that seat in the Senate.
But I think that logic is faulty. In the last 10 presidential elections, Indiana voted for the Republican 9 of the 10 times. The exception was that it went to Obama in 2008 by 1% of the vote. You can bet that the Republican get-out-the-vote effort for president in Indiana this year will be stronger than ever, and those Republican voters will vote for the R’s all the way down the ballot.
In any other year, Donnelly might have the upper hand in a matchup against Mourdock, but this year is going to be different, making it likely, I believe, that the winner of the Republican primary election will go on to win in November and then will represent Indiana in the Senate for the next six years.
Whether Mourdock will be a strong, consistent voice in Washington or whether he turns into a disappointment like Marco Rubio remains to be seen.