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. rusty155

    I won't vote for anyone back by the Tea Party.

    January 24, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. Mr. Moderate

    Let's see if I get this straight – they Tea Party wants to drive Lugar from office because he was in favor of preventing a collapse of the banking industry, wants to reduce nuclear weapons and actually works with the Democrats to find solutions to benefit America? And they wonder why a significant portion of America cannot take them seriously?

    I wonder if they'll anoint another attractive, yet certifiably crazy brunette.

    January 24, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  3. gt

    its not the tea party... the senate is full of old , been there to long senators from both sides.... clean house like the house did.. the reason were in the shape now is becasue these old elite senators have been there way to long... 2 terms is plenty ...

    January 24, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  4. LGNY

    So, the Tea Partiers want to oust another moderate Republican.

    The Republican party is becoming more and more an orthodoxy instead of a political party. Notions like

    RINO: (Boot out anyone who does not toe the orthodoxy)

    FLIP-FLOPPER: (Eject anyone who learns from experience and changes opinion)

    seek to destroy any hope of compromise or collaboration.

    January 24, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  5. Name king

    What kind of country is these right wing lunatics expect to live. You don't have any purist left in this country, some way some how we've got to learn to liv and work together to solve problem. You guys are trying to illuminate every single centrist you have left in you party. Their about three left after you lunatics get rid of lugar. Why is the president even trying to move to the center when their is no more centrist republicans left, and even if they are they better keep silent as hell. Those two two senator from main and Scott brown are the only three left. We've got whole bunch of centrist on the left that need to see what's going on with the repugs, and start planning where they stand.

    January 24, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  6. Indy

    If only the Tea Party had this kind of power they think they have, they could send Sarah packing back to Alaska

    January 24, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. Jonathan

    1) Obama's SCOTUS nominees at the most balance out Bush's nominees and the Court is still on the conservative side.
    2) TARP was Bush, not Obama
    3) START is a good thing. I'm not exactly sure how reducing our number of nuclear weapons hurts national defense. We'll still have plenty more than enough nuclear warheads to destroy the world several times over.

    So, where exactly is Lugar not conservative enough, Tea people?

    January 24, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. jpmichigan

    There are many on the Hill that should not return or retire. Senators who feel that the accomplishment they need to meet and is of great importance to them, is longevity. Regardless of their inability to function as a lawmaker effectively. after 25 years , don't you think is time for some one else, with freah new ideas, instead of governing from the past.

    January 24, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. diridi

    America, if you have any brain, get rid of these old junk...from the congress, and senate....ask for passage of "Term-limits on Congress, and Senate..." o.k, and their retirement age to be 67 o.k, America needs young blood....not this rusty thinking from old idiotic junk....like Jessie Helms, Ronald Reagan, Dole, Mitch McConnell, etc, get rid of this junk....elect ones with young faces...

    January 24, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. chill

    Senator Lugar is one of the best Senators we have and a credit to Indiana. His retirement- voluntary or not- would be a significant loss to the country and especially in the area of Foreign Affairs. If Indiana has an open primary process, then Independents should show up if they truly want to see more cooperation and bipartisanship in Washington. It's a shame that an honest and true public servant has to battle for his own party's nomination against these latter day No-Nothings.

    January 24, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. chris24

    this just shows what the tea party knows. Luger is the most respected senator
    in the republican party. He is intelligent, thoughtful and moderate.
    so, of course they want him to quit.

    they can't control or out-think him. they prefer the palin, dumb-bell candidates
    who are so stupid, they will join anything if they think they can get elected.
    (btw, i am an independant voter)

    January 24, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  12. PadreSJ

    This is the problem with ALL extremist groups (liberals, conservatives, etc.) - There will always be a faction that says, "we're more 'x' that you and therefore WE should be determining the agenda."

    Sure, you can maintain a coalition against a common perceived enemy for a short while, but eventually the extremists' disdain for anything "not them" surfaces and the divisions start spreading like cracks across a windshield.

    January 24, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. Timbo

    For the Tea Party Bipartisan is a dirty word. The Tea Party will continue to tear the Republican Party apart because they don't really want solutions just to stop the president even if it hurts the nation.

    January 24, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  14. Living in America

    Wow retiring. Lke Regis he will nake more money by sitting at home. Hoosiers for Conservative a Conservative Senate. How many groups do we have. This is crazy.

    January 24, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  15. Sasha

    If Richard Lugar isn't good enough for the Tea people, then no (sane) Republican is.

    January 24, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  16. Gil

    Richard! These nut cases are telling you what to do? They need to crawl back under the slime that they came and come from!

    January 24, 2011 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  17. Ancient Texan

    The Tea Party folks must know Lugar's voting record. Like McCain, and Hagel, he votes like a Republican when it is in his interest. A true RINO.

    January 24, 2011 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  18. davec.0121

    What I fail to understand is why a willingness to think problems through and to work with Democrats to find practical solutions to problems are regarded as cardinal sins by the Tea Partiers. Why the scorched earth, take-no-prisoners attitude? After all, the Constitution itself is the result of compromises made among the different factions of delagates after extensive debates. If the Founding Fathers could compromise with people they disagreed with, why not the Tea Partiers? Rigid idealogical purity smacks more of the history of the Bolsheviks.

    January 24, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  19. Dave

    Wow. An effective Senator who reaches works with both democrats and republicans to get things done and works hard for the state of Indiana and this is how he gets rewarded. Anyone these guys and gals could field couldn't even carry a bucket of spit for Lugar for all the good he has done for the country and the state of Indiana.

    January 24, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. Jack

    Here is one of the great Senators (and not even of my party) who is being forced out by extremeists. Sad day in Washington (and Indiana). A Vietnam Vet (someone who served–unlike many of the Tea Party), a hard-working pragmatist who was not afraid of compromise and seeking consensus, and a non-vindictive yet passionate Republican. What is going on with this country? A bunch of extremists want to take our country away from us. Leave our country alone, I say.

    January 24, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  21. Protect and Defend Freedom of Speech in the USA

    Yes, Lugar should retire as should ALL that have served so long and lead us down the road to endless government entitlements and crushing debt. Time for new blood in there. Enough of the tired old tax and spend BS that will ultimately destroy the country.

    January 24, 2011 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  22. Rob

    He worked to get things done. How horrible.

    January 24, 2011 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  23. Michael

    Lugar is one of the Republicans that I like. Why is the Tea Party trying to push away voters like myself? Do they really need ideological purity as opposed to common sense?

    January 24, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Sen Lugar do not listen to these loons. The Tea Party is starting to believe theirs and CNN's false advertisement regarding how much "clout" they've got. The reality is that they've got none. Politicians on the right used them, as well as anyone else they could, to get elected, and are now promptly and none too subtly disassociating themselves from them.

    I for one am extremely happy to see this embarrassing group of racists, yahoos, and their ilk tossed aside and disregarded like yesterday's garbage, which they are.

    January 24, 2011 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    There is NOTHING patriotic about the Tea Party.
    They are little despots in disguise.
    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    January 24, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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