Indiana’s Lugar backs tea party Mourdock in Senate run
In response to repeated queries from conservatives as to whether Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) is supporting the conservative Republican who defeated the 36-year incumbent for renomination this year, Human Events called Lugar’s office and asked whether the lameduck incumbent is backing State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, now locked in a tight contest with Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly.
“Yes, the senator is supporting Treasurer Mourdock,” Lugar press secretary Andy Fisher told us Friday. “On the night of the Friday election (when Mourdock defeated Lugar by a margin of 3-to-2), he said he would vote for him in November.”
Fisher also pointed out that, in July, Mourdock “was introduced by the senator to a luncheon of Republican senators.”
Confusion as to whether Lugar is supporting the Republican who defeated him stems from an interview with the senator and onetime Indianapolis mayor posted five days ago on IndyPolitics.org. In that interview, Lugar said he would not campaign in the fall for Mourdock, who won the nationally-watched Senate primary in May with strong backing from the tea party movement as well as most GOP county committees in the Hoosier State.
“I’ve not been a factor in the campaign, and I do not intend to do so,” Lugar told the online political journal.
Spokesman Fisher confirmed to Human Events that the 80-year old Lugar “indicated he won’t do other activities” in the fall campaign, but emphasized “he is supporting Treasurer Mourdock.”
Lugar’s position — that he supports Mourdock but won’t campaign in the fall — is actually quite magnanimous compared to those of a number of the Republican senators who have been denied renomination since World War II. Sen. Robert LaFollette, Jr. (R-Wisc.), upset by U.S. Marine Corps veteran Joe McCarthy in the 1946 primary, simply wired his triumphant opponent a one-word statement: “Congratulations.” Senate GOP Whip Tom Kuchel, after losing the 1968 primary to California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Max Rafferty, actually let supporters float rumors he was available to replace Rafferty on the November ballot as the Republican nominee’s campaign began to flounder later in the summer. Liberal Republican Sen. Jacob Javits lost the 1980 primary in New York to Al D’Amato and continued to campaign in the fall as the candidate of the state’s Liberal Party.
The latest statements from Lugar’s office comes at a time that the latest Howey-DePauw Poll showed Mourdock and Democrat Donnelly tied at 35 percent each among likely voters in Indiana. Obviously sensing a win, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee recently pumped in $516,000 on TV advertising in the state. The National Republican Senatorial Committee will launch a $650,000 TV broadside on Mourdock’s behalf and both Republican Sens. Dan Coats (Ind.) and Rob Portman (Ohio) will campaign for Mourdock. GOP Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan appeared with Mourdock last week and urged Indiana voters to “please, please” elected him senator.