Washington, D.C. – Republican Senator Richard “Dick” Lugar is out of as job thanks to the Tea Party. Lugar was defeated in the Republican primary by Tea Party challenger Richard Mourdock. With 38 percent of the precincts reporting, Richard Mourdock had 60 percent of the vote to Lugar’s 40 percent.
Lugar was Indiana’s longest serving Senator ever. He was first elected to the Senate in 1976. One year ago hardly anyone gave Mourdock a prayer at beating Lugar but in the vein of Marco Rubio it happened.
Mourdock did not run an especially impressive campaign but critics said Lugar let him set the tone of the debate and cast him as being completely out of touch with the average voter.
John McCain commented on Lugar’s situation earlier this week saying,
“It says you had better play offense, and not defense. That’s what it says,”
Mourdock and his supporters were able to make a really big deal of Lugar’s residency status. Although Lugar represented Indiana he moved to Virginia more than 36 years ago. Murdock questioned both his ability to vote in the State or be included on the ballot.
Lugar had been ruled ineligible to vote in Indiana for a short while having to re-register at his family’s farm. He also had to stay in hotels when he came to the State to campaign.
Senator Lindsey Graham said,
“ABCs of politics: stay involved, communicate with your constituents and be prepared to embrace a 21st century campaign, and own a house.”
Groups like the Club for Growth, the Tea Party Express, FreedomWorks and the National Rifle Association spent heavily and worked hard for Mourdock. He was preferred by Tea Party voters by a 40% margin.
Democrats see the victory as a chance to paint Mourdock as an extremist and believe they now have a chance to pick up a safe Republican seat.
Senator Chuck Schumer commented on Mourdock’s win saying,
“The Republicans could be on the verge of selecting a far-right Tea Party candidate who will be running on a promise that if he is sent to Washington he will refuse to compromise on anything. He wants to beat Senator Lugar for Lugar’s ability to compromise. He says there’s a problem, Mourdock does, of too much bipartisanship, and he can be counted on to obstruct. Well, there are a lot of things wrong in Washington, but too much compromise is certainly not one of them. It’s only going to give Democrats another pick-up opportunity. The more the Republicans embrace the Tea Party agenda and its candidates, the more they damage their chances in November.”
As the campaign season heats up it will be interesting to see how this race will affect the balance of power in the Senate.