Just when the mainstream media was championing the death of Tea Party extremists, proof of the movement’s life and influence arose in Indiana, where the longtime Washington insider lost to the fiscally responsible, small government candidate.
Tuesday night’s GOP Senate primary ended with Tea Party-backed Richard Mourdock beating Dick Lugar, Indiana’s veteran senator of thirty-five years, by more than 20 percentage points.
The race can be boiled down to the electorate’s frustration with career politicians with deep ties to Washington. Lugar is 80, and has held his seat since 1977. For many Indiana voters, the Indiana primary was a referendum on Lugar’s unaccountability to his voters. He came under heavy fire when it became known that he did not own a residence in Indiana. Rather, Lugar was staying in an Indianapolis hotel, and reportedly paying for it with taxpayer funds. Lugar’s cooperation with Senate Democrats also angered his constituents. In 1991, he co-sponsored the Nunn-Lugar Act with Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA). The bill worked towards nuclear nonproliferation, which Lugar has been a proponent of.
Richard Mourdock was elected the Indiana State Treasurer in 2006. Since then, he has worked hard towards fiscal responsibility. Mourdock was able to return about 10% of the state budget to the treasury each year. He led a fight to challenge the legality of the Obama administration’s bailout and takeover of Chrysler, taking the fight all the way to the Supreme Court. He also is an outspoken proponent of constitutionally limited government.
Democrats are already attacking Mourdock, saying that the GOP has taken an ‘extremist turn’ by nominating Mourdock. Democratic National Committee Chairman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, said in a statement “It’s official: The Republican Party is now indistinguishable from the Tea Party.” The attention the Democrats are already focusing on the race promises to result in a long and heated Indiana Senate race. Mourdock, who credits the Tea Party with his victory, will face Democrat Representative Joe Donnelly in a November general election. The Indiana election will be a key race in November. Republicans need to take four seats to win the Senate majority.