Despite a glorious 35-year Senate career, Indiana Republican Dick Lugar encounters his first real electoral threat in decades. That comes in the form of conservative state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the May 8 primary and then moderate Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly in the general election.
Both challengers present Lugar as a nice guy who has become a creature of the Washington, D.C., insider culture, Politico
reports. That strategy borrows a page from the tea partyers who were so successful in 2010.
Lugar’s fate in the primary will be an indicator of how strong the tea party remains. If he wins, moderate Republicans will likely try to mimic his strategy. That has included tapping out all the major sources of money early, adopting more conservative policy positions, utilizing the Internet in every way possible, and attacking his opponent before he can present his own image.
Still, Mourdock will argue that Lugar is no conservative, having voted for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court appointments, having co-sponsored the pro-immigration DREAM act, and having voted for the bank and auto bailouts.
“Clearly, over the years, he’s become more of a big government Republican,” Mourdock told Politico. “When you’ve been involved in it for 36 years, you are it, it is you, it becomes the answer.”
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