Big change in Hoosier state

Big change in Hoosier state

Indiana Republicans opted for a big change in their party's leadership.

One of the old lions of the U.S. Senate went down to defeat in Tuesday's Republican Party primary election in neighboring Indiana, and not in a small way.

Six-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar was handily defeated by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, leading many political analysts to speculate that the defeat of the conservative Lugar by fellow conservative Mourdock heralds a stark turn in our national politics.

There is no question that many of Lugar's former supporters in the Republican Party turned on him. But it's not completely clear why.

Mourdock's campaign obviously was energized by tea party supporters and other conservative activists who had grown tired of Lugar's willingness to accommodate liberal Democrats on a variety of issues. But Lugar's advanced age and growing aloofness from the folks back home also were factors.

A six-term incumbent, the 80-year-old Lugar had come to look on his seat in the Senate as personal property. A longtime fixture in Washington, D.C., Lugar didn't even have a home in Indiana, listing a family farm he had sold years ago as his residence. It was more than a little embarrassing for him to have to admit during his unsuccessful campaign that he was forced to stay with friends or in a hotel when he returned to what was supposed to be his home state.

Because of his expertise on a variety of issues, Lugar is among the most admired and respected members of the Senate. But his reputation as a foreign policy maven didn't necessarily translate in a political year in which jobs and the economy are the key issues.

His defeat, however, poses a problem for Republicans and an opportunity for Democrats. Had Lugar won renomination, polls showed that he was a sure winner in the fall election. The polls show no such thing for Mourdock.

Republican conservatives will have to show that they cannot only defeat incumbents like Lugar in a primary election, but do the same against a Democrat in a general election.

Two similar U.S. Senate races in 2010 — Delaware and Nevada — had tea party conservatives crowing over primary wins and then mourning predictable defeats at the hands of liberal Democrats. If the same thing happens in Indiana, it will mark another example of ideological purists misjudging the political landscape to the overall detriment of their cause.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
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Sid Saltfork wrote on May 11, 2012 at 9:05 am

His age, and his compromising on important legislation cost him the election.  He was not radical enough for the new right wing.  The status quo of the GOP has been upset with the inclusion of the Tea Party.  The country is facing extreme polarization in political views.  Radicals on the Left, and radicals on the Right are ejecting moderates.  Liberal became a dirty word years ago.  Now, Moderate is a dirty word.  Congress does not compromise.  Look at the number of moderates, who compromised for the good of the entire country, leaving Congress in disgust.  Members of both parties who see the collapse of compromise.  Without compromise, the confrontation will move to the streets.  Let's hope it will not be a hot summer. 

nick wrote on May 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm

 It appears that the writer of this article believes that there is some type of ideological purity to   the ''tea party''. What is the ideological purity of the tea party? Does the tea party have a platform? What are the solutions that the tea party offers as part of their ideological purity? I suggest an editorial that explains the purity of the tea party cause. That would be helpful to those of us who are not sure of the tea party goals or the elements which make a tea party member an ideological purist. It would help identify the pure tea party members from the impure tea party members and bring some clarity to the ''political landscape''.


Sid Saltfork wrote on May 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I am not sure of their ideological purity; but pictures of them seem to show their racial purity.  The Illinois congressman, Joe Walsh, is a self proclaimed Tea Party activist.  He just agreed to pay his back child support payments this election year.  Not paying child support, and cutting benefits to poor children seems to be some sort of platform plank.

nick wrote on May 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm

 Maybe the article should profile tea party purist Joe Walsh. We could better understand the tea party by looking to Walsh as an example of the purity of the movement. I think a solid republican paper like the news-gazette would be happy to report on the purity purge within the tea party because the tea party is obviously running the republican party now and in the future. It looks like this pure party of ideological purists will soon be setting most of the policy in the US. With that in mind I hope the gazette will put their best reporters on the job and write an informative series of articles that sets this entire purity issue straight for confused citizens and concerned voters.

Even if you disagree with me you have to like the term ''purity purge''.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm

I don't know.  It sounds sort of creepy.  Memories of the Night of the Long Knives, and Stalin's Purge Trials come to mind.  Ideological Purists sounds like an elitist pyramid outfit.  If they start wearing uniforms; they will be easier to identify, and scarier.  Wonder if Ideological Purist halloween costumes will be a hit this year?

nick wrote on May 11, 2012 at 10:05 pm

...right,it does sound a little creepy. I better leave all this ideological purist stuff to the gazette editorial writers. I don't think I get it.