Tea Party activists urge Lugar to retire
January 24th, 2011
10:04 AM ET
12 years ago

Tea Party activists urge Lugar to retire

Washington (CNN) - Tea Party activists in Indiana head to the nation's capital Monday morning to try and urge longtime Republican Sen. Richard Lugar not to run for re-election. But retirement appears to be far from Lugar's mind as he begins to ramp up his bid for a seventh term.

Members of Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate are expected outside Lugar's Capitol Hill office Monday morning to deliver a scroll urging Lugar to retire. members of the Tea Party Express, a national tea party organization, as well as D.C.-area tea party activists, will attend to show their support, said a representative of the Indiana group.

Greg Fettig, the group's co-founder, said that leaders of 72 Tea Party groups from around Indiana met Saturday.

"The goal of this meeting was to see if we as a collective could unite in a singular mission of rallying behind one conservative candidate for the 2012 U.S. Senate race. The goal yesterday was not to identify a candidate or candidates," Fettig told CNN.

Fettig called the meeting a "success" and said it will lead to the "emergence of one conservative candidate to challenge Senator Lugar."

The night before the Tea Party meeting, Lugar had his first big fundraiser in his home state this cycle. Senior adviser Mark Helmke told CNN that 425 people attended the event, which was expected to bring in more than $400,000.

Lugar, who officially announced last week that he is running for re-election, said, "I take any opposition seriously."

Mark Lubbers, a political consultant and Lugar adviser, used his introduction of the senator at the fundraiser to take aim at those trying to bring Lugar down. He also sought to appeal to conservatives.

"We need to bring the same passion to the fight that they will bring. And perhaps most important, we need to make sure that our friends and neighbors who identified with the Tea Party know that Dick Lugar believes in the same bedrock conservative values that they do," said Lubbers.

Lugar, the most senior Republican member of the Senate, has been criticized by some grass-roots conservatives and by some potential GOP challengers 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, better known as TARP; and most recently, his early public openness to vote in favor of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia.

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

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 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.

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby contributed to this report

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

Filed under: Congress • Dick Lugar • Tea Party movement
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. betty

    The TEA People's opposition to START reveals them for the hipocrits they are. TEA Stands for Taxed Enough Already. What does START have to do with taxes?
    I have lost my faith in them. They think they have a little power. Power corrupts and soon we will see more examples of that. Rubio should run as fast as he can away from these self-appointed saviors. They have sold their souls to DIck Army and his corrupt minions.

    January 24, 2011 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
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