Dick Lugar Has A Challenger, But He Can Beat Him

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 3 2011 9:32 AM

Dick Lugar Has A Challenger, But He Can Beat Him

He finally has one, sort of, reports David Catanese:

Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock is taking the steps to formally launch a primary challenge against six-term Sen. Richard Lugar in the coming weeks, according to multiple Republicans familiar with his thinking... During his visit to D.C., Mourdock's itinerary included a meeting with South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, who developed a reputation as a crowning conservative king-maker during the 2010 cycle.

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Lugar's heresy to the Tea Partiers is not comparable to, say, that of Olympia Snowe. She voted for a version of health care reform in committee, and she voted for the stimulus. Lugar has merely voted for START and the DREAM Act, and he looks vulnerable, because he hasn't run a tough race in decades.

But Indiana's going to be complicated. If Mike Pence runs for governor, as everyone expects him to, does he throw his senior senator under the bus? Doubtful. If the GOP race for president drags on a bit, it will drag on to Indiana, driving higher turnout -- and Tea Party coups have not been won with high turnout, but with voter enthusiasm in sleepy late primaries. (Alaska and Delaware happened in August and September 2010.)

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.