Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tea Party Activists Taking Aim At Lugar

The Star's Mary Beth Schneider takes a look today at the growing discomfort of grassroots activists with 6-term Indiana Senator Richard Lugar. It's still a ways off before the 2012 election, but Lugar is making it clear he intends to seek an unprecedented term come hell or high water.

Four years ago, Republican Sen. Richard Lugar was considered so unbeatable that Democrats didn't bother to field a candidate against him.

Now, he's facing the likelihood of a challenge from within his own party.

Tea party activists and other social conservatives are actively searching for a candidate around whom they can unite to beat Lugar in the 2012 primary election.

How remarkable is that? Lugar hasn't had a primary opponent since "Happy Days" ruled the TV ratings and "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" topped the charts. That was 1976 -- the year Lugar first went to the Senate.

But dissatisfaction -- and even downright anger -- has been building among some conservatives. They watched in dismay earlier this year when Lugar voted to confirm liberal Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. This month, they were at odds with Lugar when he defended congressional earmarks; backed a bill to help some illegal immigrants who came here as children earn a path to citizenship; and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to push for a new nuclear treaty with Russia.

"He's bombarded us" in the past couple of weeks with reasons to oust him, said Diane Hubbard, an Indianapolis Tea Party organizer who was among 65 people who protested Lugar's co-sponsorship of the immigration bill -- called the DREAM Act -- outside his Indianapolis office Saturday.

The same day, a smaller group of tea party activists and conservatives from across the state calling themselves Hoosiers for Conservative Senate, met in Fishers to begin organizing a challenge. They plan to meet again Jan. 22 in a much larger public forum to discuss how to coalesce around one alternative to Lugar.

Monica Boyer, the 35-year-old organizer of the Kosciusko Silent No More tea party group, was among those at Saturday's meeting. She wasn't even born when Lugar first went to the Senate. And he already was a veteran there when she began casting her ballots for him.

No more, she said.

"I'm a die-hard Republican," Boyer said, "and I will never pull the lever for Richard Lugar again."
Schneider goes on to mention two potential primary challengers to Lugar, including State Senator Mike Delph and Richard Mourdock, although neither has committed themselves to running just yet. Lugar will turn 80 in 2012 when he seeks another six years after serving thirty-six years already. Whether you like Lugar or not, hasn't he reached the age when one should be considering retirement? You've been rejected by your fellow Republican colleagues for a leadership position on several occasions. Your presidential campaign went nowhere. And it probably doesn't help your case when the New York Times takes to defending you in its news pages against attacks from within your own party. You're now coming across as a bit of an embittered guy who is more interested in being a thorn in the side of people within your own party than actually getting anything accomplished for the common good.

Lugar's situation reminds me of that of former Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, who was once the darling of the Right. In later years, the public's perception of him waned, particularly after a damning investigative series by the Pulliam-owned Arizona Republic raised questions about his ties to organized crime figures. When Ronald Reagan and the Republicans were sweeping to power in 1980, Goldwater struggled to win re-election in the closest race he ever faced against a little-known Democratic opponent in a Republican state. He spent his last six years in the Senate poking fingers in the eyes of President Reagan and the religious right before riding off into the sunset. Perhaps Lugar has reached a point where he should retire from the Senate gracefully rather than set off a fight within his own party. Indiana has elected plenty of Democrats to the Senate in the past. And it's doubtful Democrats will give him another pass as they've done in past elections.


varangianguard said...

What is a "diehard" Republican (or Democrat) anyway?

Does that mean voting a particular way even if it violates your very own self-interest?

People need to get over partisanship. The established political parties are just using that to perpetuate themselves as best they can, not to necessarily promote the general welfare (not even of their own constiuencies).

Every time one "holds their nose" to pull a lever in the voting booth, one is more than likely doing themselves a big disservice.

Ellen said...

Lugar is the only intelligent Republican (opposition by the Tea Party idiots is one good piece of evidence).

Why would you want him gone from the Senate?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Ellen, I think Lugar has become arrogant and out of touch with his constituents. He seems only interested in traveling the world and playing a big role in foreign affairs. I think 36 years is long enough for anyone. It is downright selfish and conceded for someone to think they are entitled to hold a seat in the Senate until their death as was the case with Robert Byrd and Strom Thurmond. It's time for someone with a different perspective. He's had a long run. Give somebody else the chance to serve.

M Theory said...

Lugar's office was besieged with requests against S510 during last few weeks.

Not surprising he and Bayh voted FOR it. Is there even a difference between Lugar and Bayh?

This bill gives the government even more regulatory power over our food. These regulations will ultimately make it impossible for small growers of local produce to compete. The agenda is to force us all to have access to only foods grown with pesticides that are radiated (for our safety).

Lugar is not leaving things better on this earth than he found them, he's leaving it worse. Lugar is no friend to the earth.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I couldn't have said it better than AI did.

dcrutch said...

The Senate voted down eliminating earmarks today. Unencumbered by any President or majority leader absolutely having to have his vote, guess how Senator Bayh voted? Against the earmarks of course, just as our Democratic junior senator took a risky public stand against overspending- while still under consideration for the Vice-Presidency.

Seeking his umpteenth term, leading our state during nightmarish overspending for years by Presidents of both parties, all while expecting us to be understanding when he votes for justices that don't care a whit about the written Constitution- speculate how Senator Lugar voted on this issue today. Go ahead. Fathom a wild guess on how our suppossedly benevolent, intelligent, and logical senior senator from Indiana voted on eliminating pork-barrel spending. The ONLY Republican senator from the Midwest to take this stance.

Do you really need to bother?

If you were one of literally thousands, perhaps millions that have been waving signs and hollering over the past two years, how does this make you feel? How sensible does it strike you when we're double-digit trillions in debt, deficit, and future obligations? How closely do you have to watch YOUR money, and be careful to keep YOUR job? Do you think Senator Lugar really understands anymore that we're talking about REAL money, even if it is a "line item" in a larger bill? Real money that comes from YOUR labor, YOUR pockets, YOUR tenacity to do the right thing and work for a living.

Give somebody else the chance to serve- indeed. I'll see you in the streets. Bring a sign and your voice.

Citizen Kane said...

I've been in Indiana since 1987 and I've never understood "Lugarmania," or Bayhmania for that matter. Lugar gets credit for Unigov, which helped create / perpetuate the environment for the current vultures to operate it in. His votes, when he voted down the line with the Republican position during his power seeking era or later when he decided to sponsor and vote only for his self-interest, have never been as measured or thoughtful as perceived. He is one of the nitwits who pushed the ethanol fraud economy on Indiana and the Midwest, creating another subsidy that allows a small group of people to suck the money out of our individual pockets to support their long-term wealth, without providing any tangible benefit to anyone. else.

"People need to get over partisanship. The established political parties are just using that to perpetuate themselves as best they can, not to necessarily promote the general welfare (not even of their own constiuencies)."

Varangianguard hit the nail on the head with regard to partisanship. The parties expect (and get) blind loyalty while they play divide and conquer and rob us blind.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Dan Parker has announced that although seven years ago, he decided not to run a D against Lugar, that will not be his choice, next year.