“I am deeply moved by the encouragement and attention I have received regarding speculation of a 2012 US Senate race. Senator Lugar is my Senator and I have supported him in the past, but have become increasingly concerned with his actions on my behalf and on behalf of Indiana within the last few years.In an editorial today, the Star takes notice of the growing possibility Lugar may be challenged from within his own party and says it welcomes competitive campaigns, although the editors make it clear their hearts are with Lugar:
Just today there is a story in the Indianapolis Star championing additional Federal involvement in feeding students in our public schools. While the goal may be noble, the means is blatantly unconstitutional.
His spokesperson, Mark Helmke has called him a strict constitutionalist and has also suggested that those of us who object to the DREAM Act, a bill that would grant blanket amnesty to thousands of illegal immigrants, are 'un-American.' It is my hope that Sen. Lugar apologizes for the words of his staff and clearly lets them know that differences of viewpoint are precisely American.
I have neither ruled in nor ruled out any future plans. And the reason is simple. I was just re-elected 59%-41% in a Senate district President O’Bama won 56%-44%. I owe my constituents their attention and focus as we head into the upcoming session of the Indiana General Assembly. I continue to pray for Senator Lugar, his staff, our state and our nation in the hopes that we turn back to what made this country great: Faith, Freedom, Family, and a Federal government of limited and enumerated power.
My family and I will make a final decision sometime during 2011 on any Federal opportunities. In the meantime, I will continue to write and speak out on issues I know to be right and just for our state and nation. You can follow my thoughts and views by monitoring and reading my blog online: http://www.mikedelph.com/blog."
Richard Lugar has served this city, state and nation well for more than 40 years. The former two-term mayor of Indianapolis was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976. He's seldom faced serious opposition since. In 2006, Lugar's most recent bid to retain his seat, Democrats failed even to field a candidate for a general election in which Indiana's longest-serving senator captured 87 percent of the vote.
However, there are indications that 2012 could be different. But Lugar's biggest challenge likely won't come from Democrats but from tea party activists and other conservatives within his own Republican Party.
The qualities that have earned Lugar deep respect on the national and international fronts -- his willingness to listen to and work with philosophical and political opponents, his intense focus on foreign affairs, his tendency to speak and think in shades of gray rather than black and white -- have generated frustration and distrust among some conservative voters.
The names of at least two potential primary opponents -- state Treasurer Richard Mourdock and state Sen. Mike Delph -- already have popped up. And there's reason to take such challengers seriously after this year's string of tea party upsets of mainstream Republican favorites.
Although the loss of Lugar's expertise and thoughtfulness to the state and nation would be disheartening, the potential of a primary challenge shouldn't be viewed negatively.
Every political leader, no matter how distinguished the record, should be challenged to prove to voters how he or she would lead effectively in a new term. By the time 2012 arrives, Lugar will have gone 12 years without having had to make such a case.
Perhaps Democrats will find a credible challenger by then, but given the party's need to rebuild after last month's Election Day disasters, that hope may go unfulfilled. Tea party leaders would be left then to give Lugar something more than a free pass to another six years in an office of high importance.
Lugar has made clear that he's ready to take on challengers from the left or right. That's as it should be.
No matter how much respect Hoosiers hold for their senior senator, he, like all political leaders, should be tested in a competitive campaign.