Friday, May 4, 2012

Two Republican Senators in Danger, And Richard Lugar of Indiana is Really In It

Say Goodnight Richard

In 2010 radical activists in the Republican party targeted some highly conservative incumbents and candidates for not being conservative enough.  The result, Republicans nominated unelectable candidates in Delaware, Nevada and Colorado, and as a result lost their chance to at least tie in the Senate.  This year they are making another effort.

The first opportunity comes in the Indiana primary which will happen on Tuesday.  Senator Richard Lugar, a solid but not flaming conservative is being targeted by a tea party supported challenger.  These types of primary races are difficult to poll, because many voters have not yet made up their minds, and turnout is very iffy.

The race is really a referendum on Sen. Lugar

On one side, it's about voter fatigue as the former Indianapolis mayor seeks a seventh Senate term. It's about conservatives who are upset with some of Lugar's votes and some of his bipartisan friendships. It's about frustration among many GOP county organizers over Lugar's lack of involvement for many years in local politics. It's about a belief among some that Republicans should be represented by a dig-in-your-heels fighter, not a diplomat. And it's about the Lugar campaign's stumbles, as well as a deep anger at Washington, D.C., insiders.

On the other side of the street, it's about people who deeply appreciate Lugar's willingness to consider more views than the one in his head. It's about a hope that Capitol Hill won't remain as gridlocked as it has been these past few years, and that more lawmakers with Lugar's reasonableness will take office, or at least that fewer will be tossed out. It's about a belief that this country needs lawmakers less inclined to explain the country's problems in simplistic political sound bites, and more capable of grasping the global picture -- yes, even if that means missing the Posey County GOP Lincoln Day dinner because it conflicts with a trip to the former Soviet Union.

And while no one can be certain Mr. Lugar will be defeated, in part because of his longevity in Indiana politics (he was a successful Mayor of Indianapolis before becoming Senator several centuries ago) it doesn’t look good.

Meanwhile, some of the senator's biggest-name supporters now whisper that they'll be surprised if he wins. And the Lugar campaign's strategy of throwing everything it can at Mourdock is having questionable results in a race that really is all about the incumbent.

Some people say a Lugar loss will put the seat in play in November, but this is wishful thinking for Democrats.  Indiana will go strongly Republican in the fall, and the replacement of Mr. Lugar by a radical conservative will just make the 2013 Senate much more radical. 

Good government will be the big loser when Mr. Lugar loses, not because Mr. Lugar was a moderate or a compromiser, but because he will be replaced by such an intransigent hard liner, the type that would rather see government fail than accept any compromise.

In Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch did not get enough votes in a convention to avoid a primary.  Sen. Hatch is in better shape than Sen. Lugar.  He has turned hard right for the last year and half in order to avoid defeat by a radical, and he should survive a primary.  In his transformation though the "new" Orrin will not be a credit to the Senate.

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