Conservative group welcomes Lugar challenger
February 7th, 2011
12:16 PM ET
3 years ago

Conservative group welcomes Lugar challenger

Washington (CNN) - A conservative group that hopes to find a consensus candidate to launch a primary challenge against Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana says it welcomes the announcement that the state treasurer will mount a bid to oust the longtime Republican lawmaker.

"Hoosiers for Conservative Senate are pleased to learn that Senator Lugar will be challenged in the May 2012 primary," says Greg Fettig, one of the organization's founders. "We welcome State Treasurer Mourdock into the race and wish him success and look forward to the likely entrance of others into the race.

Richard Mourdock said over the weekend that he'll soon formally announce a primary bid against Lugar, the most senior Republican member of the Senate.

Lugar's been criticized by some Tea Party activists and other grass-roots conservatives for his willingness to work with Senate Democrats to seek bipartisan solutions for his votes in favor of President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominees, for his 2008 vote in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and most recently, his early public openness to vote in favor of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia.

Regarding the primary challenge, Lugar Senior adviser Mark Helmke says, "We had been anticipating that." He shared with CNN a poll that Lugar commissioned last autumn that indicates that two-thirds of Indiana voters have a favorable opinion of the senator. The poll indicated that a majority of Indiana voters were not familiar enough with Mourdock and other potential challengers to form an opinion.

Lugar, who officially announced late last month that he is running for re-election, said, "I take any opposition seriously." Days later he held his first Indiana fundraiser of the cycle.

A day after that fundraiser Hoosiers for Conservative Senate held a meeting to try begin the process of trying to find a consensus candidate to take on Lugar.

Some conservatives in Indiana still have a bad taste from last year's Senate primary, when former Sen. Coats Dan Coats won a three-way contest over more conservative candidates former Rep. John Hostettler and state Sen. Marlin Stutzman. Coats ended up easily winning the general election over Rep. Brad Ellsworth to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh.

Lugar, 78, was first elected to the Senate in 1976 after serving as mayor of Indianapolis. Lugar did not face a primary challenge in 2006 and won 87 percent of the vote in the general election, facing only a libertarian candidate.

The winner of the May 8, 2012, GOP primary would most likely be considered the favorite to win the general election.

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Dick Lugar
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Protect and Defend Freedom of Speech in the USA

    Lugar... You're 78 and will have been in there THIRTY SIX YEARS! PLEASE RETIRE!! We need new blood in there to help fix the financial mess you have contributed to over the last 36 years. Please don't pull a Robert Byrd or a Ted Kennedy and make it your goal to leave office feet first at the ripe old age of 110.

    February 7, 2011 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Republicans do nothing but complain, campaign and repeal and that's not what they were sent to Washington to do. When are they going to work for Americans and jobs. Then they've got that idiot Palin talking about President Obama didn't answer the phone at 3am when she didn't know who was sleeping in her own house with her daughter at 3am. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones but I guess Palin isn't smart enough to know that.

    February 7, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. Jilli

    Sure, go ahead and get rid of one of the last remaining respectable republicans and run another crackpot. Why not...

    February 7, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  4. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Let's see. Senator Lugar, who apparently has never lost an election, will face a "conservative" challenger in 2012. In many of the general elections, only a sacrificial lamb was put up against him, knowing his victory was a foregone conclusion. OK. Provided that Mourdock does not self-destruct due to some sex scandal or foot-in-mouth gaffe, let's assume that he wins the primary. The State Treasurer's Office is fairly bland, and most people could care less about the politics of the office holder. Now he will have to run in what will likely be a competitive election against an aggressive Democratic candidate. Will the people of Indiana react positively to a candidate who's stand is he will never cooperate with the opposite party to get the People's work done (Mourdock) or will they react more positively to a candidate who will vow to work with the system to get what Indiana needs? The latter is what Dick Lugar has done for the past 34 years, much to the benefit of America, and Indiana.

    February 7, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. T'sah from Virginia

    I think people should leave office AT LEAST at the retirement age
    What is it – 65-66 – Come on, OLD FARTS, get out of the cage
    You are needed elsewhere – maybe grands or great grands??
    Leave the business in Washington to some younger hands!!!!!

    Dang, you will feel GREAT- get up later than EIGHT – maybe you can lose a little WEIGHT – there will be no more DEBATES – you can enjoy your many ESTATES – even get a few more hugs from your MATE – Don’t worry, leave the HEADACHES to your fellow workers in DC because between you and ME, more of the same will still exist even after you have reached that PEARLY GATE!!!!

    LMAO

    February 7, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. Sgt Schultz

    Good luck with that primary challenge and the tea klan's agenda of hate-based politics. We need more people that can work together, not point fingers or push an agenda of hatred and fear.

    February 7, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I remember seeing the governor of Illinois in an interview where he pointed out that if Illinois had the high tax structure of Indiana, the state would be in a surplus. I realize that a state treasurer has no authority and little expertise in anything, but I would think that the voters of Indiana would not be ready to vote for a person who is almost Pence like. They will support Lugar.

    February 7, 2011 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    Lugar is too old, anyway, but what the GOP is saying, is Lugar doesn't support the GOP's totally misguided religious beliefs. Good for Lugar.

    Being conservative is NOT about religion. On the contrary, allowing religion to influence your thinking, means you aren't thinking SMART!

    February 7, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. Anna K.

    White County Tea Party Patriots is delighted that Richard Mourdock has stepped up to bring conservatism back to our precious Senate Seat! His name recognition throughout Indiana as State Treasurer will bring dignity and respect back to this position. We NEED him in DC!

    February 7, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. Wes B.

    These ultra-conservatives and Tea Partiers should just vote in a robot. If anyone strays one bit from the line, they are ready to run him/her off. Lugar probably votes with Republicans 95% of the time. But if he's not in lock step 100%, they want to run him out.

    Why is it bad to not have the exact voting record as everyone else in your party?

    That being said, he is getting up there in years.

    February 7, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    @ Protect and Defend: Its up to the people of Indiana, period.

    February 7, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    The Tea Party heads think they are bigger than what they actually are.....It's good to see that, at least, some Republicans are not afraid of the Tea Party.....Lisa Murkowski should be an example of how Republicans should run a campaign to defeat any Tea Party candidate.

    February 7, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Tell em Claudia. Snooki Palin will show up and blow it for Murdock for sure. Lugar is the last sane GOBP member.

    February 7, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  14. fayse

    The Tea Party is a spin off of the John Birch Society. I urge you to do some research and you will find that The Kock family is heavily involved with both extremist groups. GW Bush's sister is married to one of the Kocks. While you are at it, look up Rupert Murdock. Mr. Murdock , iin addition to Fox News, he owns the majority of the new service organizations (empire )all over the world. At first, I thought that Mr. Murdock merely wanted to shape the politics of America. Alas, he wants to own the world. The majority of Americans are not wealthy and powerful, why do you allow yourself to be mind controlled by these types of people?

    February 7, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. fayse

    The Tea Party is a spin off of the John Birch Society. I urge you to do some research and you will find that The Kock family is heavily involved with both extremist groups. GW Bush's sister is married to one of the Kocks. While you are at it, look up Rupert Murdock. Mr. Murdock , iin addition to Fox News, he owns the majority of the new service organizations (empire )all over the world. At first, I thought that Mr. Murdock merely wanted to shape the politics of America. Alas, he wants to own the world. The majority of Americans are not wealthy and powerful, why do you allow yourself to be mind controlled by these types of people? No, this is not a duplication.

    February 7, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. obama2012

    @ protect and defend, hell mccain is damn near 80, I dont hear u complaining about him. BTW, the so call new blood of gop is a joke, lol. where are all the jobs they were promising. Newsflash u just cant cut yourself out of debt either. Hey protect why dont u speak on that 720 billion spent in iraq

    February 7, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |