Skip to comments.Why Lugar Lost
Posted on 05/09/2012 4:35:33 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana lost his partys nomination tonight because he had lost touch with the partys grassroots.
Since his election to the Senate in 1976, Lugar had cut a profile as a moderate Republican: He had supported the ethanol mandate, backed the Brady Bill, and opposed the Iraq surge. In previous cycles, Republicans had forgiven Lugar his ideological transgressions, but in recent years, he had become more brazen. Not only did Lugar support the DREAM Act; he cosponsored it. Not only did he vote for New START, he spoke forcefully in its favor. True, Lugar wasnt Arlen Specter he opposed the stimulus and Obamacare but his voting record was moderate enough to make him suspect.
And a combination of a poorly run campaign, a credible opponent, and a small, energized electorate sealed his fate.
1. Lugar ran a nasty and ineffective campaign. Senator Orrin Hatch faces many of the same challenges Lugar did, yet hes in a stronger position going into Utahs primary. Why? Because Hatch has recognized the threat to his candidacy and tried to meet it with full force. Lugar seemingly ignored the Tea Party even insulted it, at times.
He should have known better. On the campaign trail, Lugar said he knew he would face a challenge as early as October 2010. That month, a group of tea partiers confronted Lugar and warned him he was their next target. They were angry that Dan Coats, who had previously served in the Senate and retired, had captured the Senate nomination because conservatives were divided among a number of candidates in the primary. Next time, they vowed, they would be united.
Although Lugar raised over $4 million for his campaign, he didnt hit the campaign trail until the fall of 2011. His opponent, state treasurer Richard Mourdock, however, announced his candidacy in February 2011. Lugar met some success in courting conservatives: Leaders of the Hamilton County Tea Party, for instance, decided to back him after hearing him out. But Lugars reappearance on the campaign trail also reminded the rank and file that they hadnt seen him at their Lincoln Day Dinners and their party conventions for decades.
And Lugar wasnt the most effective speaker, either. When he took the stump, he made a reasonable argument that, with his seniority, he was an effective advocate for his states interests and he illustrated it with three points: He voted against Obamacare, he wrote a farm bill that would cut $40 billion, and his efforts on behalf of nuclear disarmament were important. Unfortunately, his message was out of tune with the times. And, accustomed to speaking with other pols, Lugar littered his speeches with Washington anecdotes what Harry Reid had said to him the other day, or how Republicans had delayed Democratic bills with hours of debate. These anecdotes only reinforced Lugars image as an out-of-touch politician.
It also didnt help that he had once told his more conservative opponents on New START to get real.
Furthermore, Lugars attacks on Mourdock simply werent creditable. Because Mourdock lacked a voting record to attack, Lugars camp tried to attack his character. Their targets were questionable: a tax deduction Mourdock erroneously received, a number of meetings Mourdock hadnt attended, a group of junk bonds in which Mourdock had invested state funds. These werent signs of an untrustworthy character, but of a person who had made honest mistakes. And voters noticed.
The negative campaign tarnished Lugars statesman image. When Howey/DePauw asked voters in their last poll of the campaign whether, over the past few weeks, their opinion of Lugar had became less favorable, 32 percent said yes, while 12 percent said no.
2. Mourdock was a credible opponent.
Unlike Christine ODonnell or Sharron Angle, Mourdock committed almost no gaffes on the campaign trail. The only major gaffe was committed by his campaign manager, Jim Holden, who in an e-mail leaked to the press compared scouring the state partys e-mail list to pillaging a monastery. The controversy quickly blew over.
Unlike the Tea Partys less successful candidates, Mourdock was an experienced pol. He ran for Congress in the early Nineties as well as for the partys nomination for secretary of state. And he had just come off winning two statewide elections as state treasurer. Soft-spoken and understated, Mourdock also put in a strong performance against Lugar in their lone debate in April: He knocked Lugar on his support of New START and his backing of ethanol, and, in so doing, showed his own competence. Once Mourdock showed he was a credible opponent, he started rising in the polls.
3. Turnout was low and concentrated among Mourdocks motivated supporters.
When Rick Santorum pulled out of the presidential race last month, Mourdock told Politico that it was the best possible timing for his campaign. Because Mitt Romney had sewn up the GOP nomination, there would be less interest among casual voters in Indiana. As a result, Mourdock predicted, it would be his more ideologically committed supporters who would turn out and they did.
In the closing days of the campaign, Lugar was left to plead for the assistance of independents and Democrats to save his candidacy. That tactic along with his refusal to say whether he would support Mourdock if he won the primary only heightened Republicans suspicions of him. Lugars mistakes compounded each other, and now the 36-year incumbent, who once seemed invincible in the Hoosier State, has gone down to defeat.
Brian Bolduc is an editorial associate for National Review.
......Gone down in defeat.....You betcha!
Winning America, one RINO at a time.......
Term limits would be the most effective solution but don’t hold your breath until that happens.
There’s some aspect to this article that seems to imply that TP candidates can win if they are “experienced pols”. Sadly, by the time most TP candidates acquire that experience, they have been co-opted.
Congrats to Mourdock, at any rate.
Can we get a list of pissed off RINOS who endorsed the democrat when they lost in the primary?
In Maryland, it was rino Wayne Gilcrest (MD-1) that was defeated by conservative pro-lifer Andy Harris. Gilcrest endorsed the dem who won a close race. Harris came back and won the seat in the next election.
IN New York, rino Dede Scuzzyfavor (NY-23rd) lost the primary and endorsed the dem who went on to win.
That article is trying WAY too hard to analyze Lugar’s defeat.
Why he lost? Because he wasn’t a Hoosier. That’s it. He didn’t live here and wasn’t part of our Hoosier clan.
Apparently "moderate" Republican is how you describe a feckless waffler. The Iraq war was not exactly my favorite strategic move in the world - in part because we proved we didn't actually have a strategy. But Lugar only opposed the surge, which is when we finally got a strategy after working through all the ineffectualy campaign hacks put in charge of doing what they didn't know how to do.
I wonder if he is environmentally friendly. If he loves ethanol he must hate fracking which is making available the next couple of centuries worth of natural gas.
I’d like to see Saxby Chamblis and Johnny Isakson join him to tell you the truth. Both of these two are RINOs and I, for one, will never vote for either again.
Lugar...the poster-boy for the problem We the People have with DC...
And the real reason Dick Lugar lost his bid...
(drum roll, please)
“Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar is running for re-election in a state he has not lived in for over 30 years.
Lugar sold his home at 3200 Highwoods Court in Indianapolis shortly after first assuming office in 1977. But due to a loophole in Indiana law, both he and his wife Charlene Lugar are still registered to vote at that address.”
Given enough time he would have gotten there!!!
The voters should change their representatives at all levels for the same reason we change babies’ diapers.
Our Nation faces bigger perils than some old man's re-electability. Georgia's Senators like all others should be raising holy hell in defiance of America's tragic ROGUE GOVERNMENT!!!
Make American's choke on their Happy Meals (tm) .
Peggy who's name shall not be mentioned Noonan, given her article a week or 2 back will be deeply saddened given she was pro Dick Lugar...
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