The primary between Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Richard Mourdock, who has been backed by prominent conservative groups, has been very interesting. It’s not necessarily a new story. Back in 2010, when the Tea Party movement was at its peak, several conservative challengers in House districts and Senate races across the country managed to beat establishment-backed candidates or incumbents. Many we’re subsequently successful in general elections, some weren’t so lucky.
It’s no secret that conservatives have their issues with Lugar, including many previously mentioned here before. FreedomWorks recently put out a voters guide (PDF) outlining many of the fiscal issues where has fallen short. However, Lugar’s problems haven’t just been limited to his voting record.
Lugar is now faced with the editors of the National Review, an influential conservative magazine, endorsing his more conservative opponent ahead of the May 8th primary:
Last week, Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) squared off against his primary opponent, Richard Mourdock, in the only debate before voters head to the polls on Tuesday, May 8th.
Since the primary is hotly contested with establishment Republicans going to bat for Lugar and conservative and Tea Party groups backing Mourdock, you’d think that the debate would be contentious. But press reports indicate that the debate was relatively mild with Lugar unable to make any headway against Mourdock, who did well against the incumbent Senator.
In case you missed it, you can watch the debate below. You can also checkout some takeaways the debate between Lugar and Mourdock via Politico:
It’s obvious that Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) has a target on his back from conservatives in the upcoming primary. Grassroots organizations and advocacy groups have made that much clear to this point, choosing his primary opponent, Richard Mourdock, due to his votes for tax hikes, support for wasteful earmarks, and tax hikes.
Lugar’s bid for re-electioned was been bogged down in March, thanks to a ruling that he was ineligble to vote in the state — though that has now been resolved — and having to payback $14,000 to taxpayers for hotel bills. Lugar also received the “kiss of death” from former Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican turned Democrat that voted for the stimulus and ObamaCare.
However, these conservative groups had been relatively quiet on the ad from…that was until yesterday when the Club for Growth and the National Rifle Association dropped a bomb on Lugar a month before the May 8th primary (you can watch the ads below):
The National Rifle Association and the Club for Growth, two heavy-hitting conservative groups, are launching ads that paint Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) as a Washington insider and boost his Tea Party opponent, Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R).
If you’ve been paying attention to the Republican Senate primary in Indiana, you know that Sen. Dick Lugar has had a rough time lately. Last month, he was declared to be ineligble to vote after not being able to produce proof of a permanent residence inside the state.
But it keeps getting worse for Lugar as he has had to pay $14,000 back to taxpayers for spending on hotels when he visited Indiana:
Sen. Dick Lugar is paying back more than $14,000 to the federal Treasury — three times his earlier estimate — after a closer review of his 35-year career found he owed additional money for hotel stays in the Indianapolis area.
The Indiana Republican said Friday that an investigation by the Senate’s disbursing office initiated at his request found he improperly billed taxpayers for his hotel stays for all but seven years during his time in office, amounting to $14,684.85. He cut a personal check paying that amount on Friday.
“Your office has compiled a comprehensive list documenting cases in which I incurred per diem expenses during trips that included a stop in Indianapolis … during August recess periods and sine die adjournments,” Lugar said in a letter to Christopher Doby, financial clerk of the Senate. “Vouchers for per diem expenses incurred in the Indianapolis area during these periods should not have been submitted or paid, even though they all pertained to official business.”
Lugar suggests he paid more back to the Senate out of caution. Lugar’s admission came after he acknowledged last week that he erroneously billed taxpayers $4,500 for hotel stays after a review by his staff of records dating to 1991. He began the inquiry after POLITICO asked about the matter, and later acknowledged the errors.
This isn’t exactly a surprise, but the Club for Growth has purchased air-time in Indiana as they hope to derail Sen. Dick Lugar’s bid for re-election. The ad the Club is running ties Lugar to the $15 trillion national debt and slams him for backing the Wall Street bailout, gas and payroll tax hikes, and opposing spending cuts.
Lugar has faced some problems recently. As we’ve noted, the Marion County Board of Elections determined that Lugar was not eligible to vote in the county, presumably nowhere else in the state, finding that his primary residence is in Virginia. Richard Mourdock has also been creeping up on Lugar in the polls. And he secured an endorsement from former Sen. Arlen Specter, who left the GOP in 2010 for the Democratic Party when it became clear that he would not beat Pat Toomney.
Here’s the ad from the Club for Growth:
It really has been a bad month for Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN). He’s been caught up in a residency controversy and his primary challenger, Richard Mourdock, has been gaining on him in the polls. But now Lugar has another headache to deal with thanks to an endorsement from former Sen. Arlen Specter.
While appearing on C-SPAN yesterday, Specter took a call from Indiana and, with being asked his opinion in the race, said, “Vote for Dick Lugar”:
Ordinarily, endorsements are something to brag about through press releases and while on the stump. But Specter hasn’t been very friendly to Republicans in the last two years. While still a Republican, he voted for the stimulus bill. After it was obvious that he would lose a primary challenge to now-Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), he bolted from the GOP. Specter would eventually go on to back ObamaCare, which was just another mark on his record of growing government and harming taxpayers.
So yeah, this isn’t the kind of endorsement you want when you’re an already vulnerable incumbent locked in a tough primary match at a time when conservatives are wary and suspicious of you.
It’s been a really bad month for Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN). He was ruled to be ineligble to vote last week in Indiana, and now new polling, though from a Democratic firm, shows that he is not just vulnerable in the Republican primary; but also the general election:
Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) is barely leading his primary opponent, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, less than two months before the primary, according to a Democratic poll released today.
The numbers showed the six-term Senator in rough shape but still ahead of Mourdock, 45 percent to 39 percent.
Lugar faces the toughest re-election campaign of his career in the May 8 primary. Since the start of this cycle, Republicans viewed him as vulnerable in a primary, but polling of his race has been scarce in part because Indiana law restricts automated calls, including polling.
Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) will run against the winner of the GOP primary, and Democrats view Lugar as a more competitive candidate in the general election. Donnelly’s campaign released the GOP primary poll numbers in a memo from his pollster, Global Strategy Group.
The pollster also noted that Lugar’s lead has been cut in half from a similar poll in October, which showed Lugar leading Mourdock by 12 points, 48 percent to 36 percent.
Lugar isn’t going well right now. The residency issues aren’t the only thing that have voters skeptical of him. He’s record in the Senate is terrible. He’s been almost assured to do the wrong thing, including backing TARP, Medicare Part D, and expanding other big government programs.
If you’ve been following Senate races this year, then you know that Orrin Hatch isn’t the only Republican facing a tough primary challenge. Dick Lugar, who has been in Washington since 1977, also has a competitive opponent in Richard Mourdock.
Many of the same groups that are targeting Orrin Hatch, including FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, are going after Lugar. But unlike Hatch’s race, where the groups haven’t endorsed, Mourdock has received endorsements and help through ad campaigns.
Lugar has his own self-induced problems to worry about. Part of the argument against him is that he has become addicted to Washington culture and no longer represents the interests of Indiana. It was recently alleged by the Indiana Democratic Party, that Lugar doesn’t maintain a residence in the state, rather lives in Virginia and rents a hotel room when visiting constituents.
Of course, Lugar’s campaign dismissed the accusation, claiming that the “entire state is his home.” That’s all well and good, but the residency issue just got a lot worse for Lugar. Yesterday, the Marion County Elections Board ruled that Lugar is ineligible to vote:
The Election Board has voted 2-1 along party lines to find Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican, and his wife ineligible to vote in their former home precinct. The two Democrats found that the Lugars abandoned that residence, according to Indiana law, and no longer reside there.
Lugar’s camp says it will appeal the decision because it disagrees with the board’s “political” action based on what it contends was a faulty analysis of the law.
As you know, Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) is facing a tough primary from Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who has received support from the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and other grassroots organizations. Now the Second Amendment has become a campaign issue as the National Rifle Association (NRA) has endorsed Mourdock over Lugar:
The National Rifle Association officially endorsed Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) over Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) Wednesday morning, blasting Lugar for his “seeming contempt for gun owners in Indiana.”
The endorsement, first reported by The Hill, is a body blow to the longtime senator’s hopes of surviving a tough primary against Mourdock, who has Tea Party support.
“We haven’t engaged in many primary elections but I have to tell you, this decision was easy,” NRA political victory fund chief Chris Cox said on a conference call. “Richard Mourdock is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and Richard Lugar is not. The choice could not be more clear.”
Cox said Lugar had a lifetime “F” rating from the NRA, which Cox said he got “the old fashioned way: he earned it.”
Looking for another shake-up of the Republican establishment in the United States Senate, the Club for Growth has endorsed Richard Mourdock in his bid to unseat Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN). The Club released this statement on Tuesday:
The Club for Growth PAC today announced that it is endorsing Richard Mourdock for United States Senate in Indiana. The seat is currently held by incumbent Republican Senator Richard Lugar.
“After thirty-six years in Washington, it’s time to send Richard Lugar home,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “Richard Lugar has served honorably, but he’s been part of the problem in Washington. He’s voted for bigger government, more spending, and he even recently voted against a permanent ban on congressional pork. Richard Mourdock will vote to limit government, repeal ObamaCare, and will help bring back the jobs lost to the Obama’s economic policies. The Club for Growth PAC proudly endorses Richard Mourdock for United States Senate.”
The Club was influential two years ago in primary races in Utah and Pennsylvania that led to incumbents being tossed out of office over more fiscally conservative challengers. Their rationale for getting involved in this race is that Lugar has aligned himself against taxpayers too many times:
Recently, Lugar was one of only thirteen Republicans to join Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid in voting against a permanent ban on earmarks.
That was the final straw for the Club for Growth PAC, which has now endorsed Lugar’s conservative challenger, Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock.