Monday, May 21, 2012

It's Ellspermann

The speculation of recent days was correct.

Mike Pence will announce his pick for Lieutenant Governor at the YMCA in Ferdinand, Indiana, in just a few minutes. It will be freshman State Representative Sue Ellspermann (Ferdinand is her hometown).

The event will be followed by a next governor and lieutenant governor of Indiana barnstorming more than half a dozen announcement events statewide over the following two days.

These are two faces you're likely to see a lot of over the next eight to sixteen years:


A good pick, all in all. Sue Ellspermann will bring decades of valuable private sector jobs and economic development experience to the ticket.

(This information was embargoed until 10 a.m. on Monday, May 21. This post was written in advance and queued up to go live at 10.)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pence Lieutenant Governor Pick Monday

Speculation is buzzing about who Congressman Mike Pence will pick as his lieutenant governor. Much buzz has centered around District 74 State Representative Sue Ellspermann of Ferdinand, who was first elected in 2010 by defeating then House Majority Whip Russ Stilwell and has a background in academia and economic development.

The campaign's announcement roll-out schedule gives considerable credence to such speculation.

Emails sent out to Republicans in Vanderburgh and Warrick County invite them to an announcement at Tri-State Aero at the Evansville Regional Airport (map here)at noon on Monday.

So far, the campaign has given no information about any event elsewhere in the state that is scheduled earlier than the event in Evansville at noon on Monday. The event in Indianapolis is at three later that afternoon and is at the Express Scripts Distribution Facility at the former United Airlines maintenance complex on the back side of the Indianapolis International Airport (map here).

Though speculation in Indianapolis has centered on State Representative and Professor Sue Ellspermann, Evansville is also home to District 76 State Representative Wendy McNamara, who was likewise elected in 2010. McNamara, however, has a background in education, not in economic development. She faces a tough reelection fight against former State Representative Trent Van Haaften, who left open the seat she won in order to run for (and lose) the 8th District Congressional seat (itself left open by Brad Ellsworth's failed run for United States Senate). Her reelection bid may also be made more complicated from baggage gained during legislative sessions over the past two years.

Ellspermann's old district was heavy with union activity (Stilwell himself was a political director for the United Mine Workers). She voted (PDF warning) for right-to-work in the previous legislative session, as did McNamara. Ellspermann's new district is neither substantively more Republican or substantively less union (it gained, for example, heavily union and Democratic parts of Perry and Crawford Counties) post-redistricting.

Ellspermann faces a particularly challenging reelection campaign (largely by virtue of the nature of her district, not so much on the strength of her opponent, who is a retired school administrator whose website contains a map of the old district and not the new district; I wonder if he is even campaigning in the right places), and a move to lieutenant governor would either leave the seat open to a Republican candidate that does not have right-to-work baggage or at least free the House Republican Campaign Committee from having to invest a lot of money defending an incumbent in a very tough situation.

Sue Ellspermann's background in economic development would certainly be an asset to Pence's campaign. She doesn't have an extensive legislative resume, which could be seen either as an asset or a liability, depending on the role Pence intends for her to play in a future administration. She does not have the decade-plus of General Assembly experience Becky Skillman had when she became lieutenant governor, for example, so it is difficult to see her being a "legislative quarterback" for Pence's agenda in the same way that Skillman was for Daniels. Her focus, instead, would probably be entirely on economic development, which is probably a net positive overall given the nature of the economy and the early outlines being seen from Pence's campaign (and the campaign of his opponent).

And, of course, the selection of Ellspermann would be yet another blow to Democratic rhetoric about a Republican "war on women," particularly if--as is widely expected--Democratic nominee John Gregg picks a male mayor from northern Indiana as his lieutenant governor pick.

I am certain that there will be snark from some quarters about Republicans picking yet another blonde female state legislator from southern Indiana as their lieutenant governor nominee, but it cannot be said that Ellspermann--who holds a doctorate in industrial engineering, has decades of experience in economic development, and got elected in a very tough district against a very tough opponent--is not more than capable of performing the job.

There's another dimension to picking Ellspermann that also deserves mention. She is a graduate of the 2008-2009 class of the Lugar Series. Her selection could be seen as Pence, who assumed de facto leadership of the state Republican Party after the May primary, moving to heal some lingering wounds from the Senate contest between Dick Lugar and Richard Mourdock. Lugar supporters might still smart at their man not being on the ballot, but they could support the entire ticket knowing his legacy lives on (among other ways) in the nomination and election of Sue Ellspermann if she is indeed Pence's LG pick.

I know Ellspermann endorsed Lugar in the Senate primary, but I haven't been able to find what statements, if any, she has made about Mourdock's win. I do know, however, that she campaigned alongside both Pence and Mourdock in Boonville at a political rally in late October of 2010 when she was running for state representative. It's hard to see her having problems campaigning alongside Mourdock now if she was willing to campaign alongside him then.

Of course, all of the above speculation (and that of a great many other people) could be entirely wrong. That would be provably true if Pence has another announcement scheduled somewhere else in Indiana earlier than noon on Monday. It seems highly unlikely that the announcement itself would be distant from the home of Pence's lieutenant governor pick. The geography of the announcement events is the biggest clue going forward in the next two days.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Is Mourdock Tied with Donnelly?

That's what a new poll put out on Monday by Joe Donnelly's Senate campaign would like to have you believe.

The poll, taken at the height of the post-primary media gnashing of teeth and scornful lamentations over Lugar's defeat, shows Donnelly tied with Mourdock, 40% to 40%.

The poll reminds me a little bit of early polling in the spring of 2010 that showed Brad Ellsworth tied with Dan Coats. We all know how that race ended.

After Dick Lugar spent millions of dollars trying to convince everyone in Indiana that Richard Mourdock was somehow a tax-cheating crook that bayoneted babies, murdered puppies, and refused to help little old ladies cross the street, after the media spent a week crying over the defeat of the great statesman by this Tea Party conservative, the best Donnelly can get in polling is a tie.

And it's not even a realistic poll. Here's why:

Including independents who leaned toward either side, the poll included 43 percent Republican leaners and 39 percent Democratic leaners — a four-point GOP advantage.

According to CNN exit polls, Republicans had a five-point turnout edge in the 2008 presidential race in Indiana (41 percent to 36 percent) and an 11-point advantage in 2010 (42 percent to 31 percent).

So if you assume that the electorate in Indiana is going to be even more Democratic than it was in 2008--when Indiana voted for a Democrat for president for the first time in over four decades--then Joe Donnelly might be tied with Richard Mourdock right now in the Senate race.

But if you view things more realistically, namely that Indiana isn't likely to be remotely in Obama's column this time, then the poll falls apart.

The Democrats are desperate to make this race competitive, even if they have to make believe, twist numbers, close their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears, and scream "we can't hear you." They need Joe Donnelly in that Senate seat, or any hope they have of keeping Harry Reid in charge of the Senate and passing Obama's liberal agenda is dead on arrival.

Their desperation is not without justification, either. In one week, Mourdock's money bomb has raised half as much money as Donnelly has in the bank after a year and a half of fundraising.

And if you need any other reasons why the Democrats are desperate (or why to support Mourdock, for that matter), well, pictures are worth a thousand words.

Baron Hill Laments Dick Lugar's Defeat

As if you needed more proof of why the outcome of the vote last Tuesday was a good thing, Baron Hill wants to remind the folks he used to lord over what a good guy Dick Lugar was.

After all, Dick Lugar never campaigned for Baron Hill's opponents (as fellow Senator Evan Bayh did, even though Lugar in 2006 was on the ballot and Bayh was not), so Baron has much to be grateful for. And when Baron's man Obama ran campaign commercials in Indiana featuring Lugar, Lugar greeted them with a silent smile.

Yes, Baron has a lot to like in Dick Lugar.

Not least, Baron praises Lugar for being bipartisan. This is a curious thing, since Baron--like Joe Donnelly--has no record of bipartisanship to speak of. You certainly don't find any trace of bipartisanship in the votes by Hill and Donnelly for Obama's deficit-exploding budgets, out-of-control spending measures, failed stimulus boondoggles, or government takeover of health care.

The defeat of Sen. Richard Lugar in Tuesday’s primary election epitomizes what is wrong with Congress.

Sen. Lugar, a moderate-to-conservative Republican, is a man of thoughtful ideas, words and actions, who has worked tirelessly to better our nation and the world for future generations. He is also a man who is willing to listen to other points of view, embrace bipartisanship and, yes, compromise because he rightly acknowledges that no one has a monopoly on what is right and wrong. I say that with the utmost respect, even though “compromise” has become a four-letter word to some, unfortunately.

We teach our children to imitate the values that Sen. Lugar embodies — be patient, not reactive; listen to others and treat them how you would want to be treated; and, work well with others.

Yet, on Tuesday, those who voted for Richard Mourdock backed a man who vocally and repeatedly made no bones about his complete unwillingness to work across the aisle. His words in fact were that there is “too much bipartisanship in Congress.”

I strongly disagree. His approach will only contribute to the congressional gridlock that people in this country so rightfully despise.

America is still the shining city upon a hill. We are a nation of hard-working, caring individuals who value liberty, free enterprise and social justice. How we achieve and preserve these values has always been the subject of spirited and welcome debate in this country. Yet if we elect people to office who have only rigid and monopolizing views on these values and are not willing to listen to others, respect their point of view, and compromise, these values cannot be advanced and our country will not be well-served.

Dick Lugar understands this. Dick Lugar was and is an effective legislator. And, that is why his defeat symbolizes what is and will be wrong with Congress. Voters chose a lecturer and ideologue over a legislator.

We have witnessed a disturbing trend in the last several years on both sides of the aisle in sending people to Congress with rigid ideas, unwilling to listen and who reject moderation. The first wave included Republicans, but Democrats too are trending the same way. Just recently, moderate, bipartisan Democrats in Pennsylvania were defeated in their primary elections.

People are fed up with Congress. They dislike the gridlock and partisanship that exists in this institution, but we are sending people there who will only make it worse. Dick Lugar’s defeat is the latest example.

If we, as Americans and as voters, keep nominating rigid, uncompromising, partisan people to any office in our country, the institution of our government will continue to break down and all of us will suffer.

The defeats of Lugar and Hill represent the voters of Indiana teaching different lessons. Namely, they don't like elected officials that tell them one thing in Indiana and vote a different way in Washington, and they like elected officials that listen to what they have to say. Baron Hill and Joe Donnelly did and have done neither. Lugar, whatever his other flaws, sinned only on the latter.

Compromise Is When Dems Get What They Want

At least, that's the sort of compromise liberals in the media speak of when they seek compromise from Republicans.

This point is well said by a recent letter in the Indianapolis Star:

After then-President George H.W. Bush famously stated “no new taxes,” he was persuaded to compromise with Democrats in Congress. He would agree to an increase in taxes if they would agree to spending cuts to help balance the lopsided budget.

The taxes were increased, the spending cuts never got a hearing, and the Democrats used the fact that Bush had said he would not raise taxes against him.

This is the state of compromise in our government today. Joe Donnelly is already saying that Richard Murdock’s biggest fault is his rejection of compromise. Tell me then, what compromises has Joe Donnelly agreed to and lived up to?

President Barack Obama was going to lead a government based on cooperation and compromise, yet he did not speak to Republican leadership for the entire two years during which he had control of both houses of Congress.

In our political world, it seems that only Republicans or conservatives are expected to compromise.

Conrad Seniour
Indianapolis

Joe Donnelly has no record of compromise. His voting record is quite clear. It's unabashedly liberal, filled with party-line votes, and in full support of Obama's liberal agenda to bankrupt this country.

Why, Look Who Has a Long History of Youthful Misbehavior

Not Mitt Romney.

Joe Biden.

George Lucas Flips Bird to Liberal Yuppies

The creator of Star Wars wanted to expand his movie studio operations in California's Marin County. Locals opposed him on "environmental" grounds, despite numerous steps by Lucas to maintain the natural state of the land on his ranch (where the studio was to be located).

Lucas threw in the towel this week on the studio project. Instead, he intends to develop the land he owns into something for which it is already zoned: low-income housing.

So the Not-In-My-Back-Yard folks in Marin County won't have a movie studio as a neighbor. They're going to have a big trailer park instead.

Lucas' statement:

We realize our solution to creating open space by placing low-impact commercial facilities on farmland, while permanently preserving over 95% of the total acreage, has not been accepted by our neighbors. Nor are they or many of the public agencies interested in the $50-70M restoration of the stream. Maybe we’re ahead of our time.

We plan to sell the Grady property expecting that the land will revert back to its original use for residential housing. We hope we will be able to find a developer who will be interested in low income housing since it is scarce in Marin. If everyone feels that housing is less impactful on the land, then we are hoping that people who need it the most will benefit.

Hat tip: Power Line

Gay Marriage Polling

Gallup:

A key to assessing how the change in Obama's view of same-sex marriage will affect his vote share this fall would be to look at its effect on independents, and on Democrats and Republicans whose views are different from the majority of their party.

Specifically, 23% of independents and 10% of Democrats say it makes them less likely to vote for Obama, while a smaller 11% of independents and 2% of Republicans say it makes them more likely to vote for Obama. Those figures suggest Obama's gay marriage position is likely to cost him more independent and Democratic votes than he would gain in independent and Republican votes, clearly indicating that his new position is more of a net minus than a net plus for him.

Evolution?


So Obama was for gay marriage before he was against it before he was for it.

And I bet he'll attack Mitt Romney for being a flip-flopper.

Happily Gathered Because of Obama

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mourdock Raises $222K in 2 Days

Mourdock's campaign spent everything in the primary, and now they've set up a money bomb to match Joe Donnelly's current cash-on-hand ($801,000).

In the two days since the election, at least as I type this, they have raised over $222,000.

Winning the primary was just the beginning.

Go over and send Richard Mourdock a few bucks.

Lugargeddon


What began in November of 2010 as a hopeful notion among a few conservative Republicans came full circle Tuesday night with Richard Mourdock's decisive crushing of Dick Lugar, 61% to 39%.

Here's the video of his victory speech. The main part of the remarks starts about ten minutes in (there's a lot of thanking people and applause at the start).



Below is a roundup of some of the notable stories about the Senate election.

First, the various analyses of why Lugar lost...

From the Indianapolis Star:

1. He lost touch with the Indiana Republican Party

2. His voting record.

3. Money.

4. Lack of coherent campaign message.

5. He's 80.

From Brian Bolduc of National Review:

1. Lugar ran a nasty and ineffective campaign.

2. Mourdock was a credible opponent.

3. Turnout was low and concentrated among Mourdock’s motivated supporters.

From the Washington Post:

Republican insiders say Lugar’s loss was probably more the result of several years of self-inflicted wounds and less about the strength of the tea party in Indiana. Lugar faced questions about whether, after decades of bipartisan deal-making in Washington, he had lost touch with his state’s voters.

GOP senators and national party strategists think that Lugar, 80, who was first elected in 1976, ignored their advice about how to run a more vigorous and effective campaign, thinking he knew his state better than they did, even though his last tough re-election bid was 30 years ago.

Before the returns were in, Republicans said lessons could be learned from Lugar’s race. “The moral of the story is: Don’t play defense, play offense, one of the fundamental rules of elections,” said Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who endorsed Lugar.

And Power Line:

However, it is quite unlikely that Lugar could have prevailed over challenger Richard Mourdock no matter how early on he had perceived the magnitude of that task and no matter how much “offense” he had played.

Hatch and McCain are more conservative than Lugar. Hatch’s lifetime ACU rating is 89 percent; McCain’s was 82 percent when he ran for re-election. Lugar’s is 77 percent.

At least as importantly, Hatch and McCain have provided conspicuous leadership on issues near and dear to conservatives. For decades, Hatch has led the fight for conservative judicial nominees – from Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas to Samuel Alito, and dozens of lower court nominations. McCain has been a leader in the struggle to control federal spending and to keep our military strong. And he has been a thorn in President Obama’s side since Inauguration Day.

Lugar’s leadership is in the realm of foreign policy, where he worked closely with Democrats to advance the dictates of the conventional Washington, D.C. wisdom. Joe Biden said yesterday that on matters of foreign policy, he and Lugar “seldom disagreed.” One hopes that this is typical Biden BS – Clueless Joe has almost never been right on major foreign policy issues. But Biden’s remark is telling nonetheless. No one can point to a policy sphere as broad as foreign policy and say that Hatch or McCain generally agrees with liberal Democrats.

In sum, the main reasons for Lugar defeat are substantive. Lugar could have campaigned non-stop throughout 2011 and 2012; it would not have made a significant difference. What could he have said at any point that would have won over Indiana’s conservative Republican electorate? Nothing comes to mind.

Indeed, the harder Lugar tried, the worse things became for him. In the final days of the campaign, he slipped from 5 points behind in the polls, to 10 points behind, to 20 points behind when the votes were counted.

National Review's Jim Geraghty warned of phony Democrat spin of Mourdock being an extremist even before the election was over:

Democrats have convinced themselves that if Mourdock wins the primary, their nominee, Rep. Joe Donnelly, will have a healthy shot at winning the Senate seat in November. (Only one poll has pitted the pair in a hypothetical match-up recently, and it showed a tie.) But Donnelly hung on to his House seat in 2010 by emphasizing border security and explicitly running against “the Washington crowd,” depicting President Obama and Speaker Pelosi. (His ads carefully avoided using the term, ‘Democrat.’) He won by less than two percentage points that year.

Donnelly is likely to follow the “emphasize how moderate you are” approach that Rep. Brad Ellsworth tried in 2010’s Senate race in Indiana; with that approach, Ellsworth garnered an entire 40 percent against Sen. Dan Coats.

Gallup’s latest surveys in Indiana show President Obama’s job approval at 40.1 percent and disapproval at 52.2 percent; 44 percent of the state identifying as Republican (up from 39.6 percent in 2009), 39 percent of the state identifying as Democrat (down from 46 in 2009). Oh, and Donnelly shouldn’t count on too much help from the party in Washington; the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will be worrying about Nebraska, Montana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Wisconsin, Florida, and so on…

I find it hilarious that Democrats--the party that has rammed Obamacare, a failed stimulus plan, and a series of record deficits down the country's throat on party-line votes--and Joe Donnelly, a solid vote for Obama's liberal program and for Nancy Pelosi--claims Mourdock is an extremist. They speak of compromise as if it is something with which they are personally familiar, as opposed to something they have consistently abhorred and avoided in favor of party-line votes and radical agendas.

Senator Ellsworth can tell you all about what a successful campaign strategy that is here in Indiana.

Mourdock, in fact, views (I think quite correctly) Joe Donnelly to be Brad Ellsworth, The Sequel:

Some pundits consider Donnelly an “Evan Bayh Democrat” — that is, a Democrat conservative enough to win in Indiana. In response, Mourdock jokes, “I consider him a Brad Ellsworth Democrat,” referring to the former congressman who lost to Indiana’s other senator, Dan Coats, in 2010 by 14 points, 54–40.

Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund has a goal of raising a hundred thousand dollars for Richard Mourdock by the end of the month.

Lastly, Hot Air proved that great minds think alike, naming their post about the election Lugargeddon (a term first used here by your humble correspondent in February of 2011 when Mourdock announced and used many times since).

Unification

All together now:

Gov. Mitch Daniels formally endorsed Richard Mourdock’s Senate candidacy Wednesday morning, describing the state treasurer as a “mainstream” Republican who comes “right out of the heart” of the party.

“You earned this nomination,” Daniels said, appearing on a stage with Mourdock and other statewide elected officials at state GOP headquarters. “And anyone who knows you knows you’ll outwork anybody who opposes you this fall. This is the first of two congratulations we intend and expect to deliver to you this year.”

The term-limited Daniels, who supported and cut two television ads on behalf of Lugar, said he had not yet spoken to his political mentor but predicted that time would heal the wounds of the primary.

When asked about Lugar’s most recent written statement blasting Mourdock’s “unrelenting partisan mindset,” Daniels chalked it up to “a tough evening.”

“There were some things there I wouldn’t have said. I thought the first statement was the better of the two, but he’s said what’s most important. He really wants to see a successful Mourdock campaign this fall,” he said, pointing to Lugar’s concession speech Tuesday night.

Mourdock said he had not yet received a call from Lugar, either. But Mourdock expressed compassion for an Indiana political legend and said his loss wouldn’t be a significant part of Lugar’s four-decade legacy.

“I really feel badly for him this morning,” Mourdock said. “I’ve lost elections. I know how much it hurts.”

As Democrats begin to argue that the Indiana seat is now in play, Daniels moved to bolstere Mourdock’s case for the fall campaign.

“Richard and I have been friends and allies so he knows what I think and he is fully capable, as he just proved, of running a successful campaign, but more important, representing this state faithfully after he’s won,” Daniels said. “You will remember that Richard began this campaign with more than two-thirds of all the mainline Republican chairmen supporting him. He only built on that strength as he went along. I think he is really well-positioned to be on the ticket successfully this fall.”

Mourdock returned the praise, saying, “We need to run Washington, D.C. the way the statehouse has been run the last eight years.”

One of Mitch Daniels' enduring legacies is going to be a unified, dominant Republican Party in Indiana. A forward-looking and unified institution of efficient, competent, thrifty conservative government by capable individuals.

Richard Mourdock fits well into that legacy, as much as Mourdock's victory Tuesday night brought to a close the service of Dick Lugar, Mitch's political mentor.

Statesmen are remembered for their accomplishments, not their exits. Great ones seldom have pretty or clean departures from the scene. Hopefully Lugar is different, and his exit doesn't tarnish the legacy of Mitch Daniels, who himself is one of Dick Lugar's legacies to the state of Indiana.

Sore Lugar

I think Richard Mourdock said it well on Wednesday morning:

“I’ll tell you all right now, I really feel badly for him this morning, because I’ve lost elections and I know how much it hurts,” Mourdock said. “For Mr. Lugar’s incredible length of service and all that he has done as the mayor of this city, as a great Hoosier and a great American, he will forever have my respect. He has never been my enemy and never will be. The legacy of Richard Lugar, when it is written years from now, last night will not be mentioned. What will be mentioned will be his time in this city. What will be mentioned is his time as a leader in the U.S. Senate and even as an international statesman.”

Lugar hasn't known defeat in a very long time. It's an unfamiliar thing, and he's taking it in a very unstatesman-like way. Perhaps he just needs some time and room to come around. Or not.

The Washington Post's critique of Lugar's bizarre initial election night statement is scathing:

After 35 years of low-stress campaigning, the Indiana statesman might have been prepared for that gentle breeze to kick up a notch some day, but he wasn’t.

First, his staff should have begged him, hip-checked him, or if necessary, seen to it that the following statement was eaten by a computer virus, or the campaign mascot. Maybe he stopped listening to them a while ago. But he’s had no practice at losing, and it showed.

His long, defensive election night statement begins by reiterating that he was right to run and fit to serve. And he holds that note far too long: “My health is excellent, I believe that I have been a very effective Senator for Hoosiers and for the country, and I know that the next six years would have been a time of great achievement. Further, I believed that vital national priorities, including job creation, deficit reduction, energy security, agriculture reform, and the Nunn-Lugar program, would benefit from my continued service as a Senator.’’

A moment like this is one in which others should be – and were – touting your storied and honorable career, Senator. Yet there you are, undercutting their kind words by going on (and on) about being right in all regards: “Analysts will speculate about whether our campaign strategies were wise. Much of this will be based on conjecture by pundits who don’t fully appreciate the choices we had to make...”

I am a better Republican than my party deserved, he tells us: “According to Congressional Quarterly vote studies, I supported President Reagan more often than any other Senator...”

But I don’t think that person who beat me will amount to much, he strongly suggests: “If Mr. Mourdock is elected, I want him to be a good Senator. But that will require him to revise his stated goal of bringing more partisanship to Washington. He and I share many positions, but his embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for Hoosiers in the Senate.’’

No, not much at all: “This is not conducive to problem solving and governance. And he will find that unless he modifies his approach, he will achieve little as a legislator. Worse, he will help delay solutions that are totally beyond the capacity of partisan majorities to achieve.’’

Finally, though I am nowhere near finished, here are a few other things I should have let others say, or saved for my memoirs, or even for a week from now, after I’d slept and taken a breath: “If that attitude prevails in American politics, our government will remain mired in the dysfunction we have witnessed during the last several years. And I believe that if this attitude expands in the Republican Party, we will be relegated to minority status. Parties don’t succeed for long if they stop appealing to voters who may disagree with them on some issues.”

You’ll miss me, children: “For two consecutive Presidential nomination cycles, GOP candidates competed with one another to express the most strident anti-immigration view, even at the risk of alienating a huge voting bloc.”

And did I mention that I am rarely other than right? “As someone who has seen much in the politics of our country and our state, I am able to take the long view. I have not lost my enthusiasm for the role played by the United States Senate. Nor has my belief in conservative principles been diminished. I expect great things from my party and my country. I hope all who participated in this election share in this optimism.” Or not.

In defeat as it was during the campaign, this sort of peevish, small man is not the Dick Lugar Hoosiers thought they knew. Hopefully the one they recognize will come back to them.

After all, he has an image to maintain (or, well, at least try to restore).

As Ace of Spades snarks:

"Adult We Desperately Need In Washington" Indulges In Childish Tantrum of Infinite Butthurt

Well,reports that Dick Lugar is a mature, sober, responsible, modestly genial grown-up adult with a long-view take on things seem to have been greatly overstated.

I hope not; let's give it a little time.

Quote of the Day

The “Tea Party” is short hand for everything and nothing, but mostly it means those voters who are disgusted with D.C. dysfunction. When that digest can get organized, get traction, and get a target, it is a powerful shaper of election results but its support is not by itself a sufficient guarantee of victory. It is a movement, not a party, but it is a powerful impulse within the party.
- Hugh Hewitt

“Donnelly's Pinned Himself to the President”

Mourdock on the campaign ahead:

Harrison County Primary Results

Immaterial to most of you, I suppose, but here's the article from the Courier-Journal:

Scott Hussung failed to beat Harrison County’s Carl “Buck” Mathes four years ago, but on a second try Tuesday he pulled off an upset.

The heavy-equipment operator from New Middletown edged Mathes to win the Democratic nomination for District 2 commissioner, paving the way for what’s predicted to be an even tougher battle in November.

Hussung will face Republican Kenny Saulman, a retired supervisor with Clark County REMC, who previously served as a commissioner and councilman.

Mathes, a farmer, auctioneer and contractor who is completing his first term as commissioner, was predicted to survive the primary and face an uphill race against Saulman.

The most unexpected result from Harrison’s primary may have been the turnout, which featured voting by about 3,600 Republicans, compared with 3,000 Democrats. The numbers of GOP ballots has always trailed Democrats, according to Scott Fluhr, the Republican central committee chairman.

“That’s a first, ever,” he said.

In other races, both parties chose candidates they know well and, in some cases, had launched into office previously.

Democrats, for instance, chose one-term incumbent County Councilman Richard Gerdon, former council member Leslie Robertson and Patricia Wolfe, who served eight years as county auditor. The three will compete for three at-large seats on the seven-member County Council.

The six-way race also featured Sheila Bryant Best, a medical assistant from Elizabeth; car sales manager Timothy Coffman of Corydon; and Gerald Saulman, a deputy assessor and longtime Harrison Township volunteer firefighter.

Republican voters also selected well-known leaders, backing one-term incumbent Jim Heitkemper, currrent County Clerk Sherry Brown, as well as veteran service officer M.E. “Marion” Wallace. Doug Harkness, who works on the county’s maintenance staff, was the fourth GOP contender.

In a final contest for the GOP nomination for surveyor, Harold Klinstiver of Elizabeth, who is serving out the term of the late Tom Bube, defeated Clayton Baylor of Lanesville.

Mathes won a close recount in 2008 to Rhonda Rhoads, who is now the state representative for most of Harrison County.

Mourdock carried Harrison County three to one over Lugar. There were more Republican ballots than Democratic ballots pulled in the county for the first time ever (over 3,600 to about 3,000). A third of the Democrats that voted didn't vote for Obama, and a similar number didn't vote for Joe Donnelly or John Gregg. They left it blank instead.

There was not a single Democrat, opposed or unopposed, in any race that got more votes than their Republican counterpart, opposed or unopposed. Mitt Romney got only two thirds of the Republican primary votes. It was still considerably more than Obama received.

More votes were cast for Todd Young than for all of the five Democratic challengers combined. The third-place Republican at-large council candidate (the top three advance to the general election) received more votes than the first-place Democratic at-large council candidate.

You won't, of course, find any of those facts in the news story about the election from the Corydon Democrat. Record Republican turnout is apparently low turnout as far as they are concerned.

They studiously avoided reporting the totals for the uncontested races (both in the print and online editions). Heaven forbid anyone notice how the Democrats did relative to the Republicans in Harrison County.

Meanwhile, the Clarion, the Corydon Democrat's sister paper that is owned by the same company, reported in their election coverage that Republican primary voters in neighboring Crawford County outnumbered Democratic primary voters there. Go figure.

Thrown Over the Side

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Quotes of the Day

I'll have more thoughts on the primary outcome tomorrow (still tired from yesterday). In the meantime, two always topical quotations in situations like this:

“A really great man is known by three signs - generosity in the design, humanity in the execution, moderation in success.”
- Otto von Bismarck

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
- Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

GO VOTE!

Don't wait! Do it now!

What to Look For Tonight

There's a lot happening in today's primary elections. Here are a few things I will be looking at, beyond just the immediate results, as returns come in tonight.

Residency Matters, or Doesn't It?

Dick Lugar isn't the only politician on the ballot today with residency issues. They have also plagued David McIntosh in the 5th District Congressional primary.

We've all seen what not owning a house in Indiana for over three decades has done to Dick Lugar's political fortunes. We have yet o see what leaving Indiana and coming back will do for McIntosh, and there's been little in the way of (public) polling to tell us where that race is headed.

McIntosh's distance from Indiana is not as great as Lugar's, nor did he become as distant from the beliefs of Republican primary voters (as Lugar did). Coats weathered questions about his return to Indiana two years ago. Whose fate will McIntosh share?

This is important not merely for McIntosh, but for the man that replaced him in Congress, Mike Pence. Pence, in order to keep his young family together while he served in Congress, bought a house outside the capital, sent his kids to school there, and his wife teaches at a school in Fairfax, Virginia. The Pence family retains their house in Indiana, they come back here each weekend, they go to church here, Pence is not a distant Congressman from his district or his state by any stretch of the imagination.

But what works gets repeated. The residency issue laid low the mighty Lugar political brand. And if it works on David McIntosh, the same strategy--whether it works or not--will get attempted against Mike Pence by Democrats.

If McIntosh comes through in the 5th District, it will be safe to say that, as they did with Coats, Hoosier voters care more about where their elected officials are on issues they care about than where they live.

Southern Trendlines

Much has been made about how primary turnout is down from 2008. This is a meaningless comparison. A Senate primary is never going to generate as much attention--or turnout--as a Presidential primary. One comparison that will matter, however, will be seen in southern Indiana. And it will have broad implications for the November elections, as well.

What will the balance between Democratic ballots pulled and Republican ballots pulled look like in traditionally conservative Democrat areas in southern Indiana? In 2010, Democratic fortunes in southern Indiana were destroyed. Republican primary ballot pulls surged relative to Democratic primary ballot pulls. The relative percentages were closer than they have ever been, whether from Democrats crossing over, conservatives leaving the Democratic fold, or Republicans voting in primaries for the first time (many southern Indiana counties never had meaningful or contested Republican primaries before).

Will tonight's results continue that trend? Early voting (at least in my county and surrounding counties) seems to indicate that it will. And that has implications for November, just as the 2008 and 2010 primaries had implications for November as well.

When they have won in Indiana, Democrats have built statewide majorities on a V-shaped area (or check-mark-shaped area) running along the Wabash from Terre Haute to Evansville, then east up the Ohio to Louisville and Cincinnati. A trendline here of continued increases in Republican primary ballot pulls relative to Democratic pulls bodes very poorly for Democratic hopes in November. Not just for John Gregg or Dave Crooks, but also in state representative races and local races as well.

The primary ballot numbers will be a canary in the coal mine.

Tea Partied Out?

Richard Mourdock isn't the only Tea Party candidate on the Republican primary ballot today. Conservative insurgents are challenging establishment candidates in the 6th and 8th Districts as well. (The 5th District has a more convoluted Congressional primary landscape.) How well will Kristi Risk fair against incumbent Larry Bucshon in the 8th? How well will Don Bates and Travis Hankins fair against establishment pick Luke Messer in the 6th?

The outcome of the Senate primary, that it could even be close let alone go into election day with Mourdock leading Lugar, tells us volumes about where the hearts of Republican primary voters in Indiana lay. But Lugar's race is in many respects--his residency, his ongoing lack of attention to the state, his longtime disregard for the beliefs and issues dear to Hoosier Republicans--unique.

The outcomes in these other races will tell us a great deal as well.

Lunch Fail?

Facing a map drawn very unfavorably to Democrats and desiring a working majority to undo the recently-passed Right to Work law, unions have poured money into groups like the "Lunch Pail Republicans" with an eye toward electing pro-union state legislators that have an R after their name instead of a D.

How will these primary challengers, many of them facing incumbents backed by the House Republican Campaign Committee, fair tonight? Will any of them win? If not, then the challenges redistricting created for electing a Democratic majority suggest that the unions will not have much luck at repealing Right to Work any time soon.

Unions have lots of money for campaigns, but their resources are finite. They cannot afford to throw good money after bad if they have no prospect of rolling back RTW in Indiana. They may decide that their money is better spent in other places (like Wisconsin or Ohio). This, too, would have implications in Indiana for November.

~

So, beyond just winners and losers, what are you looking at when the election results come in tonight? You can comment over at the Hoosierpundit Facebook page.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lugargeddon: Mourdock Leads by 10

History is not on Dick Lugar's side; where conservative challengers have taken the lead against moderate incumbents in these sorts of primary races, they never look back and the incumbents never survive or make a comeback.

The Courier & Press:

As a new poll showed him lagging well behind, U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar made a passionate plea to Hoosiers of all stripes to spare a 36-year tenure that is in serious jeopardy in Tuesday’s election.

His challenger, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, has a 10-point lead, with the support of 48 percent of likely Republican primary voters compared to Lugar’s 38 percent, according to the Howey/Depauw Indiana Battleground Poll released Friday.

The poll showed that among voters who consider themselves “very conservative,” Lugar is struggling badly. Those who are “somewhat conservative” still prefer Mourdock, but those who say they are “moderate,” Lugar wins easily.

The new poll, conducted by Republican pollster Christine Matthews and Democratic pollster Fred Yang on behalf of Howey Politics Indiana and Depauw University, surveyed 700 likely Republican primary voters on Monday and Tuesday.

It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent – a range showing the race could be anywhere from a 44 to 42 percent Mourdock lead to a 52 to 34 percent Mourdock lead.

That’s a major swing from the late-March poll by the same group that showed Lugar with a lead, at that point 42 percent to Mourdock’s 35 percent.

“It certainly looks as if the momentum has shifted toward Richard Mourdock,” wrote Matthews, who is well regarded and has polled for Gov. Mitch Daniels’ campaigns.

Of those who were polled, 44 percent said they are “very conservative.” Among them, Mourdock leads, 62 percent to 36 percent. Of the 33 percent who said they are “somewhat conservative,” Mourdock leads, 43 percent to 41 percent. And of the 19 percent who said they are “moderate,” Lugar leads, 60 percent to 26 percent.”

Among those who identified themselves as Republicans, Mourdock’s lead is 51 percent to Lugar’s 36 percent.

And Mitch has a bit to add, as well. He not only shot down the Lugar claim that Mourdock is somehow unqualified. He also shot down the claim that Mourdock would lose in November.

“He’s a thoroughly credible person – you know, a friend and ally of mine,” Daniels said. “I was in an awkward position, to say the least, here, between two people I know and like and admire. But one of them, I have a lifelong loyalty to, and that was the tiebreaker.”

Lugar’s campaign charged that Mourdock would face a much tougher battle in the fall against Donnelly than Lugar would. Daniels said “maybe so,” but that Mourdock’s chances if that’s the case “are much better than even of succeeding.”

It's not over until the fat lady sings, and the only poll that matters--as the saying goes--is the one taken on election day.

So this is no time for conservative supporters of Richard Mourdock to let up or rest easy.

Lugar to Democrats: Save Me!

Lugar's Friday press conference was a surreal act of desperation, and an acknowledgement of just how close to his own campaign's numbers the poll that leaked Friday really was.

Lugar even begged for help from Democrats, minorities, and unions.

These are all, as we know, important elements of the Republican primary electorate.

The Indy Star:

Sen. Richard Lugar's campaign came down to one word Friday: "help."

In the political equivalent of an SOS, the Navy veteran urged Hoosiers of any political persuasion who like what he's done in his 36-year career in the Senate to help him stay there.

"Every person in Indiana who wants me to continue, every person wherever they might be at this point, I encourage them to come out," he said. "Come out immediately, as fast as you can."

The usually staid Lugar was animated as he made his last-ditch appeal at his Broad Ripple headquarters while volunteers called voters to urge their support.

As a bell rang each time a volunteer won a commitment from a voter, Lugar pleaded with groups that he has helped over the years to now help him salvage his political career.

They needed, he said, to "come forward and visibly give their support." He cited farmers he had boosted with agriculture legislation and fights against regulations. He called on "working men and women," saying his ties with business and labor are needed to create jobs.

He appealed to veterans, Jewish voters who cared about his work to help Russian Jews, women who might have benefited from his program to build political networks and minority students who were helped by his scholarship program.

In Indiana, voters do not register by party. Anyone voting in the primary election can ask for a Republican or Democratic ballot. While they can be challenged if they are known to be a member of the other party, it's difficult to prove that someone hasn't had an election day conversion.

"I believe that right now, if a majority of Hoosiers were to vote in an election -- that is, all Hoosiers regardless of party, Republicans, Democrats, independents -- I would win," Lugar said. "I'm not asking anybody to cross over. I'm just saying positively, 'Register your vote, because if you do not, I may not be able to continue serving you. At this point, help."

Having abandoned any hope of winning the support of members of his own party, Lugar turned yet again to smear Richard Mourdock:

Mourdock, he argued, is not qualified.

"I'm just saying as positively as I can: Do not elect an unqualified person to serve in the Senate," he said.

He blamed the hole he is in on millions of dollars in attacks against him made by outside groups whose support has helped Mourdock erase what otherwise would have been a substantial cash advantage for Lugar.

Defending his own negative ads against Mourdock, Lugar said that "after you take millions of dollars of hits, day in and day out, at least somebody ought to say Mr. Mourdock simply is unqualified to handle the complex situations in our world today."

I think that Dick Lugar should blame the hole he is in right now on the millions of dollars he and his campaign spent trying to smear mud over an innocent man. Lugar knows full well that his ads against Mourdock are untrue; he ran them anyway. He knows full well that Richard Mourdock is qualified to serve in the Senate; he claims otherwise anyway.

This is not the Dick Lugar Hoosiers thought they knew. He's no different than the man that ran tough and nasty campaigns in his early elections; people just don't remember them. And now, they don't like what they see. It doesn't match with the "brand image" Lugar so carefully cultivated over the decades.

The curtain has been pulled back from the Great and Powerful Oz, and a twisted pathetic figure of negativity and desperation is all that remains. Even if his appeal to Democrats somehow leads to a miracle on Tuesday, Dick Lugar has already lost. His cherished image as a statesman is shredded, destroyed by his own campaign.

And the idea that Richard Mourdock isn't qualified? Mitch Daniels isn't having any of it. Enormous credit to Mitch for this; I'm sure the Lugar folks would prefer he stayed silent.

Lugar, though, got no help from Gov. Mitch Daniels on this issue. Daniels, who got his start in politics working for Lugar and is backing Lugar in TV ads, said Friday that Mourdock is "a thoroughly credible person who is a friend and ally of mine."

Lugar's charge that Mourdock cannot be effective if he isn't willing to work across party lines crystallizes the differences between them, Mourdock said.

"I want Republicans to be the majority so that we don't have to be working with the other side, hoping to pick one off now and then," Mourdock said. "I want to build the Republican Party, and he wants to try to count on winning a few votes when he needs them from the other side."

Here's a parting question and a thought to chew on:

Two legacies in Indiana politics are now at odds with each other, and it didn't need to be so.

Dick Lugar can win this, his final reelection (at least the primary campaign portion), but it could well come at the cost of not inconsiderable damage to the dominant Republican Party coalition Mitch Daniels worked for eight years to build in Indiana.

So whose legacy will survive Tuesday? Will the house that Mitch built stand, or will Lugar succeed in burning it to the ground?

America's Future: Mourdock's Closing Argument

His last ad of the primary campaign:

Elections Are about the Future, Not the Past

Russ Pulliam has an interesting column in the Indy Star about how he feels torn between voting for Lugar and voting for Mourdock.

Ultimately, he says, he'd like to vote for both of them:

Seldom do I want to vote for two people for one office, but that is how it looks this time in the Lugar-Murdock Senate primary race.

Sen. Richard Lugar is the George Washington of modern Indiana. He laid the foundation for the city and state to move into the major leagues.

...

[Mourdock] has a private-sector background that has served him well in public life. He has a keen grasp of history, which is valuable for political discussions that focus too much on the here and now.

Mourdock understands the urgency of the federal deficit issue that could take the United States down the path that Greece has gone. He's more conservative than Lugar, in a time when the federal debt must be brought back closer to balance.

The sentimental side recommends a vote for Lugar. The practical side says we are facing national bankruptcy. I wish I could vote for both: Lugar, as thanks for illustrious public service; Murdock, for the future.

That's sort of it in a nutshell, I suppose.

Is this election about America's past--about Cold War nuclear weapons and New Deal farm subsidies and voting for anyone the President nominates and UniGov--or is it about the future--about crushing debt and the need to make tough reform choices to set our fiscal house in order and about providing a new voice to defend the values we hold dear (and about which Dick Lugar has long been silent)?

Is the election Tuesday about the past, or about the future?

We cannot dwell in the past. We have to be prepared to face the future, and sometimes that requires some personnel changes in public office. As Mourdock's slogan says, it's time.

Memo to Susan Brooks: Your Supporters Shouldn't Get Taped Tearing Down an Opponent's Yard Signs

And they shouldn't tear them down whether they're being taped or not, really.

Tears for the Supposed Death of Moderation

The Indianapolis Star has an editorial today bemoaning the defeat of "moderates" in Washington.

It's an entirely false premise.

After the 2008 elections, Indiana's 11-member congressional delegation consisted of five moderates -- moderate-right Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, moderate-left Democrat Sen. Evan Bayh, and three Blue Dog Democrats, U.S. Reps. Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill.

Now, only Donnelly and Lugar remain.

Let's be clear here. Whatever else they may be, Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth, Baron Hill, and Evan Bayh were anything but moderate. They voted for record expansions in Federal spending, grotesque growth in the deficit, a government takeover of health care, a vast stimulus boondoggle that didn't work, and much more.

They campaigned as moderates in Indiana and they voted as liberals when they went to Washington. We should not be surprised that Hoosier voters had buyers' remorse in November of 2010. To call the defeat or departure of the likes of Hill, Ellsworth, and Bayh a death of moderation is to accept a false premise; they were never moderates to begin with.

Lugar, I suppose, is another story, one that is playing out before the electorate right now. He, too, seems likely to rue the day he shrugged off and smiled with tacit approval over Obama's use of his image in campaign ads.

At the same time that moderation has withered on Capitol Hill, Americans' confidence in Congress also has dropped. Only 14 percent of Americans think Congress is doing a good job, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls.

The biggest complaints against Congress are that it can't accomplish anything of substance and members' over-the-top partisanship is out of control. Both of those fatal flaws are likely only to grow worse after this year's elections.

Americans disapprove of the job their government is doing because it is doing a bad job of governing.

And when it does "compromise", the results are abominations that do not merely leave both sides unhappy but fundamentally fail to address the issues over which the compromise was made. The perfect case in point for this was the debt ceiling compromise, which failed to even slow--let alone reduce--spending and established a series of "mandatory" spending cuts that Congress seems likely to disregard entirely.

Welfare reform was a compromise that could leave both sides of the table pleased with the outcome. You do not see that in recent "compromises" out of Washington. If partisans like Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton could compromise, then the indictment should not be one of partisanship but of the individuals currently in Washington (many of them for too long).

Marching Orders

Friday, May 4, 2012

If Lugar Loses, He Won't Support Mourdock?

So says his campaign:

Fisher has responded to the question of whether Lugar will support Mourdock if the state treasurer wins the primary. In an e-mail to NRO, Fisher writes, “After Senator Lugar wins the primary, he will welcome Treasuer Mourdock’s support in winning the Indiana Senate seat, gaining Republican control of the U.S. Senate, retaining Republican control of the U.S. House, retaining Republican control of the Indiana state house and governor’s mansion, and defeat President Obama in the fall.”

They won't say what they'll do if the opposite happens, and Mourdock wins.

Lugar himself says Mourdock isn't qualified to be a Senator (a hilarious criticism, since Lugar probably doesn't currently meet the Constitutional requirements for the office):

Well, let me just say, frankly, that my opponent does not have the qualifications to be a senator because he simply has not done the homework that's required to be effective - whether it be on the jobs issue, the economic issues, international issues, whatever they may be.

So will Lugar support him, nor not? Apparently not.

Lugar's criticism is rich with hypocrisy. He didn't know any more (and likely less) about those same issues when he was first elected Senator. By his own criteria, he would not have been qualified to hold the office in 1976.

It is a common thread among career politicians to judge themselves indispensable and others unsuited to take their place. Such beliefs run counter to the inherent nature of our very system of government. In a democratic republic, there is no such thing as an indispensable man.

It is the same misguided belief in self-importance that causes Lugar to say in his campaign ads that Hoosiers are "lucky to have him" or "fortunate to have him". On the contrary, he is lucky and fortunate to have represented us for so long, and to view it otherwise is arrogant.

Mitch Daniels, meanwhile, has already committed to supporting whoever wins the primary:

Mitch Daniels is not about to condemn Mourdock, however. “They’re two good people,” he said today, “friends and allies both.” Daniels says he will support the winner of the primary whether it’s Lugar or Mourdock.

So why can't Lugar agree to support Mourdock?

Lugar the Unknown

National Review's Brian Bolduc has a great article detailing just how out of touch Dick Lugar has become with the state he was elected 36 years ago to represent.

Your humble correspondent is quoted at the end, but the whole article is well worth reading.

In March, the Marion County Election Board declared Senator Dick Lugar ineligible to vote in Indiana, the state he’s represented in Congress since 1977. Lugar sold his home in Indianapolis decades ago, and he currently resides in McLean, Va. True, the board’s vote was along partisan lines, with the two Democrats voting against the one Republican. But Republican activists say they’ve hardly seen Lugar since his first election 36 years ago.

“I have never met Dick Lugar, and I have been to more Lincoln Day dinners, GOP events, and tea-party rallies than can be counted,” writes Dee Dee Benkie, Republican national committeewoman for Indiana, in an e-mail to National Review Online.

“Lugar has hardly ever appeared at any county Lincoln Day dinners,” adds Jim Bopp, Republican national committeeman for Indiana. “And he almost never even appears at Indiana GOP state dinners or our state conventions.” Like Benkie, Bopp is supporting state treasurer Richard Mourdock in the primary.

Sam Frain, chairman of the 2nd Congressional District GOP in Indiana, says the last face time he had with Lugar was in 1976. As a teenager, he walked in a parade with the then-candidate, “and essentially, that is the last time I had with Senator Lugar,” he says. The last time he saw Lugar, moreover, was at Governor Mitch Daniels’s inauguration. (Daniels is a former staffer of Lugar’s; Frain, meanwhile, is backing Mourdock in the primary.)
By contrast, many Republican activists have been impressed by Mourdock’s availability. For instance, Phillip Stoller, vice chairman of the 3rd Congressional District GOP, remembers chatting with Mourdock one-on-one for 30 minutes on Congressman Mike Pence’s campaign bus.

Yet Lugar has his defenders. “I’ve met him many times going back to college in the ’90s,” writes Mike O’Brien, chairman of the Hendricks County GOP, in an e-mail to NRO. “I had a class assignment to interview an elected official. Rather than select the local officials like most of my classmates, I sent a request to Senator Lugar and he accepted it.”

“To suggest he’s some distant, obtuse elected official is a total fabrication that fits the narrative of this primary for his opponents,” O’Brien adds. “I’m not of the class of county chairman who expects to see my United States Senator at my ham-and-bean supper. We hire these guys to go represent us in Washington, D.C., and then we’re shocked when they actually spend more time in Washington, D.C., when they’re elected than when they were campaigning to go.”

This is very disingenuous.

I don't know one person (county chairman or otherwise) that laments Lugar's absence from some event or other. You can attend those and still not listen to the people you are elected to represent or even care about them. That's what Lugar has been doing for the past year since he had a primary opponent. He goes through such motions, but they are meaningless exercises.

Speaking at some dinner is of no value if no time is spent listening and interacting with the attendees. It's the listening part that matters. It's an important component of representation, and one Lugar has been ignoring for too long.

But I digress. The article continues with an excellent rebuttal by Sam Frain...

Frain disagrees. “When we elect representatives to Washington, I think there is a certain expectation that they stay engaged and involved in Indiana,” he argues. “How else are they going to know the needs and wants of Hoosier citizens if they’re not involved?”

“I’ve met Senator Lugar many times,” adds Kyle Walker, chairman of the Marion County GOP. “He has been very active and accessible to our grassroots folks throughout his campaign.” Like O’Brien, Walker is supporting Lugar in the primary.

If you're the chairman of a county like Marion, where Lugar was mayor before he was Senator, you're probably more likely to interact with him when he spends the night in a hotel in downtown Indianapolis in the heart of your county. Just saying.

And Lugar has stepped up his outreach efforts to the grassroots in recent months. By meeting with them privately and answering their questions, Lugar won over tea partiers Chuck Ford and Don Bauder, who previously planned to support Mourdock. And this week, Lugar is attending a civics event Ford is holding for high-school students.

Still, complaints about Lugar abound. Jared Bond, a 26-year-old Republican activist, notes, “I have been involved in politics for the last twelve years. . . . Prior to September 2011, I had met or seen Senator Lugar on three occasions. Since September 2011, I have been at eight different events where Senator Lugar has been present. Even in 2006, when I served as Senator Lugar’s campus coordinator at Purdue University, I never had the opportunity to meet him.”

One longtime state activist, Rich Bramer, also general counsel to Mourdock’s campaign, writes to NRO: “Until this year, Senator Lugar had not been to my home [Sullivan] county in Indiana since 1999 for any event, political or non-political. . . . Senator Lugar was a constant presence in Indiana in the 1970s and 1980s. . . . His absence from the state first became noticeable to party activists in the mid 1990s and has been very noticeable in the 2000s.”

And Scott Fluhr, chairman of the Harrison County GOP, writes, “Until this past October when he did an event in Corydon, that was the only time I had ever met him. I’d guess that almost everyone present at that event had either never met him or hadn’t seen him in at least a decade and a half.”

But Fluhr also remembers meeting Lugar once before: In middle school, Fluhr won a statewide geography bee and spent half an hour talking with the senior senator when he went to D.C. for the national competition.

In 1994.

Those were the good old days, as they say.

Senate Race Roundup: Lugar on the Brink

There's been a huge amount of coverage of the Senate primary in the past couple of days. Here's a rundown of some of the articles and stories I found noteworthy.

Salon.com laments the prospect of Lugar's defeat:

It’s starting to look over for Dick Lugar

...Democrats are hopeful they could exploit Mourdock’s Tea Party politics to turn the state’s swing voters against him – as happened with several high-profile Tea Party-backed candidates in 2010.

That said, Mourdock – unlike, say, Christine O’Donnell or Joe Miller — is an established statewide politician whose public behavior doesn’t easily conform to the image of a kook. And Indiana, even though it narrowly backed Barack Obama in 2008, is a traditionally Republican state that’s expected to land in the Romney column this fall. So there’s a good chance Mourdock will land in the Senate if he prevails next week.

The real significance of a Lugar loss, though, would extend far beyond November...

The real implications of a Lugar loss next week will be psychological: How will watching yet another prominent Republican with a solidly conservative record lose in a primary affect the mindset of average Republican member of Congress? Chances are, it will make him or her even more resistant to taking any action, big or small, that might possibly be construed as ideologically disloyal.

Of course, the most moderate Republicans appear solidly conservative to liberals at Salon, but I digress. And when they say taking any action that might possibly be construed as ideologically disloyal, what they mean is aiding and abetting Democrats in their mindless bankrupting of America.

Someone has to say no to these people, not shrug when they use your picture in campaign ads. If Dick Lugar has to be beaten as a reminder of that, then so be it. And if it stiffens the spines of other Republicans and motivates them to fight Obama and his destructive agenda, then so much the better.

The Hill has an article pondering Lugar's future as a K Street Lobbyist, a path already well-worn by the likes of Evan Bayh and Baron Hill.

Headhunters said Lugar could make more than $1 million per year if he chose to work full-time at a government affairs or lobby firm, and could pull in $250,000 annually in a part-time role, perhaps for as little as one day of work a week.

Whether Lugar wants to get involved in lobbying is another matter; Lugar is 80 years old, and would draw a robust congressional pension earned during his 36 years in office.

The Fix notes Lugar's growing peril:

An independent poll hasn’t been taken in the state since a month ago, when Lugar led by seven points. A poll for the Mourdock-backing group Citizens United last week had Mourdock ahead five. There’s a chance Lugar could pull this out. But if he doesn’t, it wasn’t because he didn’t have enough warning.

Roll Call contends that Mourdock getting the most votes on Tuesday, won't be because he won but rather because Lugar lost:

In the age of modern campaigns, Sen. Dick Lugar’s political obituary could have been avoided.

A year ago, the Republican lawmaker was in a position to run a well-funded campaign to take down state Treasurer Richard Mourdock’s challenge on his right flank. Now, one week before the May 8 primary, the Hoosier legend faces a miserable cap to his 36-year career.

It didn’t have to be this way for Lugar. The six-term Senator failed to run a nimble campaign operation and to anticipate his political vulnerabilities — let alone resolve them.

He made specific strategic errors, from battling accusations about his out-of-state residency to struggling to define his opponent and executing a clear re-election message.

In the meantime, Lugar lost the high ground — his congenial reputation as a statesman — by running millions of dollars in attack ads for the first time in his career.

“I think they floundered for an argument — or they never thought they’d need to make one,” said an Indiana operative and Lugar supporter. It’s “petty, negative stuff that’s very common in our politics, but he should be above that. Tactically, I think it’s inconsistent with his brand.”

After the ballots are counted, the primary results will likely show a Mourdock victory. But, to be sure, Lugar will have lost the race.

The best line of the article has to come from Marty Weaver, the Morgan County GOP Chairman:

“Back in 1970, my first date with my first wife was at the Orange County Lincoln Day dinner,” said Morgan County Republican Party Chairman Martin Weaver, an ardent Mourdock supporter. “And that’s the last time I saw Lugar at a Lincoln Day Dinner.”

The Washington Examiner has an interesting story looking at how Lugar's positions have been shaped by the positions advocated by his donors. That's probably an unfair contention. Do politicians get supported by certain groups (be they lobbyists for companies or lobbyists for grassroots organizations) to win their favor or because they already hold positions those groups support? Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

The Washington Times opines of a "smell of death" around the Lugar campaign:

Once he realized he was in trouble, Mr. Lugar set about destroying his own brand. The smiling, avuncular senior senator who had spent years denouncing negative campaigning came on like Darth Vader. He denounces Mr. Mourdock as a nut or, alternatively, as a phony conservative. He dismisses him as a lightweight and hints that he’s a crook as well. It is unseemly, and isn’t working.

As the race enters its final week, the polls suggest the contest is too close to call, but while the whole Republican establishment is working to re-elect the man, anyone who has been around campaigns enough to pick up the smell of death will be betting that the Richard on the November ballot in Indiana will be Mourdock rather than Lugar.

Notice the trend here? Lugar's turn to the hard negative, the very sort of campaigning rejected by his protege Mitch Daniels, destroyed his carefully cultivated brand and turned off voters. This was not, as I noted earlier, the Dick Lugar Hoosiers thought they knew.

I would contend that a look at Dick Lugar's prior competitive campaigns would tell you that this was the Dick Lugar that was there all along, but that's immaterial. Voters didn't see him that way for a long time. And now that they do, they don't like it.

Mourdock was endorsed by his hometown paper, the Evansville Courier & Press:

Granted, we in Evansville know Mourdock better than voters elsewhere in Indiana. We know him as a former Vanderburgh County commissioner. We know him as a knowledgeable geologist and coal executive with a hands-on understanding of energy issues. We recognize that he knows finance and economics, as the state treasurer should. And we know him as a highly intelligent man with a passion for knowledge who remains a student of history.

He shows no fear of the issues. He told the Courier & Press Editorial Board that he is not intimidated by foreign policy, a specialty of Lugar's.

No doubt Mourdock's credentials will come as a surprise to his critics, who knew little of him before last year, and who attempt now to paint him as a political hack, seemingly for daring to challenge the 80-year-old Lugar. Like those critics, we too admire Lugar, a truly great Hoosier, but after 35 years in the Senate, it may be time for another to take his place.

In this era of deficit spending, it is particularly important that Indiana send to Washington a conservative thinker in step with Hoosier voters.

Mourdock said, "I believe in the marrow of my bones that the conservative points of view that call for limited government and greater individual responsibility, greater individual freedom are the right ones."

Indeed, in our view, Mourdock makes a convincing argument to succeed Lugar on the Republican ticket for the U.S. Senate.

The union-funded anti-right-to-work Lunch Pail Republicans group endorsed Lugar and promptly released a poll claiming their man had a two-point lead over Mourdock, 44% to 42% with 14% undecided. Even assuming the poll is accurate (which I question), how many people are seriously undecided about Dick Lugar after 36 years? Will they really vote for him at this point? I doubt it.

The Indiana Faith and Freedom Coalition has sent out a voter guide comparing Lugar and Mourdock; it's a comparison that favors the challenger.

The Indianapolis Star's Matt Tully observes that (as anyone could have told you from the start), this race is about Dick Lugar and not about Richard Mourdock. Lugar's long record, Lugar's wrong positions, and Lugar's disgusting campaign.

Americans for Tax Reform leader Grover Norquist has endorsed Mourdock, who has also signed the group's Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

Tom Daschle, former Democratic Senate Majority Leader turned lobbyist, was on MSNBC praising Dick Lugar:

I will say that [Dick Lugar] is an extraordinary leader and respected senator on both sides of the aisle. His contributions over the last couple of decades are as great as any that are serving today. I have great admiration for him and he has done Indiana extremely proud.

As they say, with endorsements like that...

The Evansville Courier & Press has an excellent review of the principles that have led Richard Mourdock down this path.

Over at Andrew Brietbart's Big Government, Mourdock notes the importance of evangelism to the conservative message. Democrats, he says, should be confronted and converted. It is a sentiment much like that set forth by Ronald Reagan (though Mourdock did not make the comparison to the Gipper).

Lugar is touting his efforts at fighting religious persecution, but Legal Insurrection has two more posts detailing additional examples of how Lugar has been soft on Iran. Lugar opposed sanctions on the Iranian oil industry in 2001, and in 2009 he supported negotiating with the Iranian regime even as it was crushing a popular student uprising in its own streets.

Lastly, FiveThirtyEight ponders the Senate primary and observes that Democrats might have an easier time beating Mourdock than Lugar.

I disagree, obviously. It's a sort of 30,000-foot analysis that misses critical aspects visible here on the ground. The residency issue has damaged Lugar, and his own negative campaign has shredded his "brand" image among Hoosiers. He would probably not be as strong in November as some outside of the state might think. There are other reasons, also.

The state Democratic Party is in ruin since the departure of Evan Bayh and shows no signs of life. Obama will not spend time or resources in Indiana and there are no bright lights for the Democrats on any part of their ticket. Their gubernatorial nominee, for example, is being out-fundraised three-to-one and has gained no ground at all in recent months.

Donnelly is the strongest Democratic candidate, true, but their bench is and was extraordinarily weak. Donnelly is not a strong candidate even in relative comparison. Mourdock got more votes than Donnelly in Donnelly's district in 2010, for example.

Additionally, for all the talk of Mourdock running a lackluster campaign until earlier this year, he has managed to raise considerably more money than Donnelly did. And fundraising is much harder for primary challenges of incumbents than it is in general election contests.

Blind Dissident

Gutsy Campaigner


The SEALS aren't happy about it:

Serving and former US Navy SEALs have slammed President Barack Obama for taking the credit for killing Osama bin Laden and accused him of using Special Forces operators as ‘ammunition’ for his re-election campaign.

The SEALs spoke out to MailOnline after the Obama campaign released an ad entitled ‘One Chance’.
In it President Bill Clinton is featured saying that Mr Obama took ‘the harder and the more honourable path’ in ordering that bin Laden be killed. The words ‘Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?’ are then displayed.

Besides the ad, the White House is marking the first anniversary of the SEAL Team Six raid that killed bin Laden inside his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan with a series of briefings and an NBC interview in the Situation Room designed to highlight the ‘gutsy call’ made by the President.

Ryan Zinke, a former Commander in the US Navy who spent 23 years as a SEAL and led a SEAL Team 6 assault unit, said: ‘The decision was a no brainer. I applaud him for making it but I would not overly pat myself on the back for making the right call.

‘I think every president would have done the same. He is justified in saying it was his decision but the preparation, the sacrifice - it was a broader team effort.’

Mr Zinke, who is now a Republican state senator in Montana, added that MR Obama was exploiting bin Laden’s death for his re-election bid. ‘The President and his administration are positioning him as a war president using the SEALs as ammunition. It was predictable.’

A serving SEAL Team member said: ‘Obama wasn’t in the field, at risk, carrying a gun. As president, at every turn he should be thanking the guys who put their lives on the line to do this. He does so in his official speeches because he speechwriters are smart.

‘But the more he tries to take the credit for it, the more the ground operators are saying, “Come on, man!” It really didn’t matter who was president. At the end of the day, they were going to go.’

Chris Kyle, a former SEAL sniper with 160 confirmed and another 95 unconfirmed kills to his credit, said: ‘The operation itself was great and the nation felt immense pride. It was great that we did it.

‘But bin Laden was just a figurehead. The war on terror continues. Taking him out didn’t really change anything as far as the war on terror is concerned and using it as a political attack is a cheap shot.

‘In years to come there is going to be information that will come out that Obama was not the man who made the call. He can say he did and the people who really know what happened are inside the Pentagon, are in the military and the military isn’t allowed to speak out against the commander- in-chief so his secret is safe.’

Senior military figures have said that Admiral William McRaven, a former SEAL who was then head of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) made the decision to take bin Laden out. Tactical decisions were delegated even further down the chain of command.

Mr Kyle added: ‘He's trying to say that Romney wouldn't have made the same call? Anyone who is patriotic to this country would have made that exact call, Democrat or Republican. Obama is taking more credit than he is due but it's going to get him some pretty good mileage.’

A former intelligence official who was serving in the US government when bin Laden was killed said that the Obama administration knew about the al-Qaeda leader’s whereabouts in October 2010 but delayed taking action and risked letting him escape.

‘In the end, Obama was forced to make a decision and do it. He knew that if he didn’t do it the political risks in not taking action were huge. Mitt Romney would have made the call but he would have made it earlier – as would George W. Bush.’

Brandon Webb, a former SEAL who spent 13 years on active duty and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said: ‘Bush should get partial credit for putting the system in place.