Senator Richard Lugar
Senator Richard Lugar, U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar was ousted Tuesday by a tea party-backed challenger in Indiana’s Republican primary, abruptly ending the nearly four-decade career of a popular politician who built a reputation as a diplomat but whose critics argued had ceded too much ideological ground to represent a conservative state.
Richard Mourdock, who had lost four other political races before being appointed and then re-elected as the state’s treasurer, won the nomination after portraying Lugar as too moderate for Hoosiers. Mourdock will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly in November.
The 80-year-old Lugar had never faced a primary challenge in his Senate career and was slow to respond to attacks from conservatives unhappy with his voting record and longevity in Washington. Conservative critics say he ceded too much ideological ground during his four decades in Washington, but changes within his own party contributed to his downfall as Indiana Republicans increasingly turned to new, more socially conservative leaders.
Though Lugar entered the race heavily favored and much better funded than Mourdock, outside groups poured millions into the race, attacking Lugar on his record having a field day with a challenge over whether he was eligible to vote in the state where he hadn’t had a home since being elected to the Senate in 1977.
Lugar said Tuesday that he believed the people behind that cash really “couldn’t care less for either of the candidates, Mourdock and myself – they’re eager to show their clout, their ability to terminate careers or change the landscape.”
“Indiana was the only playground available to demonstrate this,” he said. “That’s my misfortune to be in sort of a unique situation.”
Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has long been considered one of the congressional experts on foreign policy matters. He has been a leading voice for a nuclear non-proliferation treaty with Russia and was often mentioned as a potential Cabinet secretary, even in the Obama administration, though he said he wasn’t interested.(AP)