FreedomWorks for America COO Ryan Hecker tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview that the upset defeat of Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar can only be described as a “tidal wave for the tea party movement.”
The grassroots-focused Super PAC spent some $600,000 in The Hoosier State since endorsing Republican challenger Richard Mourdock last October. It worked with Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate to help retire Lugar in his own party’s primary, acknowledged Hecker as the polls closed in Indiana.
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“This is a historic victory and I think it’s the beginning of a lot more success in 2012 for the movement,” declared Hecker, whose organization knocked on over 125,000 doors, placed more than 400,000 phone calls, and planted more than 20,000 lawn signs through a network of grassroots activists in the state.
FreedomWorks’ President Matt Kibbe, went even further, adding, “Richard Mourdock’s historic underdog victory is proof that grassroots activists, armed with good ideas and hard work, can fundamentally change the Republican Party from the inside out. This is just one more example of the hostile takeover of the Republican Party that we’ve been working on since 2009.”
Both Hecker and Kibbe point to the ripple effect the Indiana election is likely to cause in Republican politics.
“Like Dan Liljenquist’s convention upset in Utah last month, this is a victory . . . that will re-ignite the spark of the 2010 midterm elections and energize the movement across the nation to support other conservative House and Senate candidates like Ted Cruz in Texas, Jeff Flake in Arizona and Josh Mandel in Ohio,” said Kibbe.
“We won’t stop until we grow not just a Republican majority, but a fiscally conservative majority in both the House and Senate that can drive the legislative agenda to the White House.”
With more than 1.6 million members nationwide, Hecker said his organization targeted Lugar based on the senator’s moderate voting record, which included support for TARP, auto bailouts, liberal Supreme Court justices and a mandated entitlement program that served as the precursor to Obamacare.
“I think that what he could have done was voted against TARP, and really took stands prior to ever deciding whether he was going to run for a seventh term, that would have shown a true move towards economic conservatism,” Hecker explained.
“There’s nothing he could have done — Lugar — to keep the tea party off of him, but he certainly didn’t help himself by remaining a moderate as the tea party movement rose, and making statements against the tea party movement in his own state as they are organizing and pushing for economic conservatism.”
But Lugar’s voting record is only part of the story, insists Hecker, who also points to Mourdock’s efforts to reach out to the people of the state.
“I mean I think he is a genuine person, a genuine conservative, and somebody that really understands the values of citizenry in his state and part of that is that Richard Lugar is out of touch as well,” he said.
Hecker recalls that the conservative Indiana treasurer was invited to speak at a FreedomWorks rally in 2009.
“Instead of just taking a plane like most other speakers probably would, he jumped on one of those tea party buses that that were taking people across the country — and just for the next 15 hours hung out with Hoosiers on the bus,” recalled Hecker.
It was on that trip that Mourdock impressed Greg Fettig, who went on to form Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate, which would play a key role in Mourdock’s victory.
“What we did is we provided tools to a really great grassroots network in Indiana. I mean we helped train them. We provided them with online phone banking. We provided them with all of the materials that they would need and we provided them with really cutting-edge walking map technology,” Hecker explained.
And now moderate Republicans should take heed.
“The real message is you really have to believe in economic conservatism and vote for economic conservative candidates. And I think it sends a message that the tea party movement is alive and well,” Hecker declared.
“If we can take out a 36-year incumbent who’s probably the most powerful man in his state, all moderate Republicans should beware come election time.”
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Fettig, of Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate agrees that his “Hoosier patriots” sent a loud message to Washington on Tuesday night. “Enough is enough,” he added.
“Sen. Lugar became part of the problem in Washington when he put politics and power over good policy and votes. It’s time for a change, and we believe that Richard Mourdock is the best candidate to protect the interests of Indiana and lead us out of our $16 trillion national debt.”
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