There is a tremendous battle looming in Indiana for the Senate seat currently held by Richard Lugar. No- it is not some right-of-center Democratic insurgent making his reelection a problem but the challenge comes from within the Republican Party in the name of State Treasurer Mourdock. In many posts, I have stated that, based upon the most recent polls, Lugar would have an easier task defeating Donnelly than would Mourdock. In responses to those posts, people have pointed out that “these polls are too early” and that they are meaningless. Yet, these very people are then eager to cite these admittedly “too early to tell and meaningless polls” when one shows Mourdock is gaining on either Donnelly or Lugar (in the primary). Selective dismissal of polls seems to be the norm.
I also question many here and elsewhere who, when confronted with some statements or policy positions by Mourdock from his past failed runs for Congress in 1990 and 1992, that paint him as something less than the consistent conservative he claims. Many of the ardent Mourdock supporters are quick to point out that these statements are old and that he has moved more to the right as his political career developed. They also point out that as this happened, Lugar has moved to the left and is now more a centrist. Yet, many of these same people are quick to jump on the presumptive nominee at the top of the ticket- Mitt Romney- for essentially doing what Mourdock supporters now claim of Mourdock. If Mourdock can “evolve” as a conservative, then so can Romney.
Not that Dick Lugar supporters here and elsewhere are really helpful with their candidate. Instead of listing those items that would make one want to support Lugar, they engage in a campaign to tear down his opponent. One would think they are Democrats since that is their preferred strategy. We are all aware of the “hit and run” tactics of a particular poster here who attacks Mourdock, but then leaves and refuses to engage in a dialogue regarding their assertions. These tactics hardly enhance the view of your candidate.
Having visited the Lugar website many times, I find it replete with hypocrisy. For example, he lists his endorsements- mainly Indiana business groups- and the number of people they employ in the state and their economic contribution to Indiana. Alongside these, he lists the endorsements of Mourdock and notes that groups like the Club for Growth employ no one in the state, nor do they contribute to the economy of the state. In other words, he infers that Mourdock has the support of outside interests while he has the support of Indiana insiders. This from a man who does not maintain an Indiana residence in any real sense of the word. Lugar can hardly claim to be running as an outsider having been in the Senate since forever. This is nothing but rank hypocrisy of the highest order.
Originally, I leaned towards Lugar for three reasons. First, given the importance of this election, it is imperative that Republicans win the Senate. I believed that this would be easier with Lugar running in Indiana. In short, a Mourdock-Donnelly match up could put that at risk. In 2010, I saw the GOP put forth too many candidates (WV, AK, DE, CO, NV) in states where Republicans could have easily won because the opponents were weak and beatable. In short, given the importance of the election, going with a relative political novice in statewide races is fraught with risk.
Second, Mourdock is the Treasurer of Indiana. As such, he reigned over what amounts to a $300 million error. We should all be aware of the fact that $300 in corporate business tax receipts were “lost” and never transferred to the general fund. This necessitated an approximate $300 million budget cut to Indiana education. A forensic audit in an unrelated case uncovered the error. And although Mourdock may not have been directly involved, he is the State treasurer and has to shoulder some of the responsibility. This has not been an issue in the primary probably because it would reflect badly upon Mitch Daniels who, as Governor, also has to shoulder some responsibility. Lugar, a Daniels friend and ally, will not raise the issue, but surely Donnelly will. Throw in some apparent bad investments by Mourdock with Indiana pension funds and it creates fodder for attack on Mourdock, the candidate in the general election.
Third, I cared less about endorsements from groups like the Club for Growth and even Redstate and more about records. There have been misinterpretations here of Lugar’s record. For example, Mourdock asserts that Lugar voted for cap and trade when the actual vote was a cloture vote, not one on the actual legislation. That being said, research into Lugar’s record in this area is disturbing, if not schizophrenic. Lugar detractors are quick to point out that he failed/refused to sign onto a letter opposing Obamacare. I care less about what he did NOT sign onto and more about what he DID sign onto. He did sign onto UN protocols regarding global warming. He REFUSED to support legislation that would force the addressing of India and China- two of the biggest polluters in the world- in “global warming” legislation. He DID sponsor enhancement of CAFE standards that do nothing but make vehicles less safe and more expensive. Energy and environmental policy is very important to the economic well-being of the United States and in this area, I am afraid that Lugar has abdicated his responsibility to ensuring the health of the economy in favor of joining the global warming bandwagon.
There is enough hypocrisy and mudslinging and questionable endorsements on both sides. However, there is a bottom line. Indiana is a red state. Their flirtation with purple status in 2008 was an aberration (when they barely went for Obama) and that was corrected in 2010 with Congressional gains and the election of Dan Coats to replace Evan Bayh. For these reasons, I am now convinced that whoever wins the Republican nod on May 8th will be the Senator from Indiana for the next six years. That being said, Mourdock winning the primary will not upset or frustrate Republican hopes of winning the Senate in 2012. And for those reasons, new blood is not such a bad thing. It is time to thank Richard Lugar for his many years of service to the state of Indiana and for him to gracefully step aside. Although I retain certain doubts about Mourdock, I have an equal number of doubts about Lugar. As someone who leaned towards Lugar and all things being equal (in terms of hypocrisy and records), I am hoping that the voters of Indiana vote for a breath of fresh air on May 8th and pull the lever for Mourdock.