John Kerry calls it a “tragedy for the Senate.” Richard Lugar has lost the Indiana Republican primary for Senate to Richard Mourdock. It isn’t close: he’s headed to a 60 percent to 40 percent defeat. (Interestingly, his Senate colleague Dan Coats only got 39 percent in the 2010 primary with the conservative vote split between Marlin Stutzman and John Hostettler.)
Lugar had some real accomplishments, like Nunn-Lugar, which helped secure former Soviet nukes. We can remember the good times, like his ill-fated 1996 GOP presidential campaign, when he ran on a national sales tax and the argument that he had voted with Ronald Reagan more than any other senator. But he came to typify an entitled Washington insider who was part of the problem rather than the solution. Even in defeat, Lugar — attacking Mourdock’s “partisan mindset” — sounds as if he believes that Senate seat belongs to him.
Tonight he was reminded that it doesn’t. The accolades rolling in from Kerry and President Obama (whose press shop released a statement on Lugar’s “retirement”) are an example of why Republicans voted against him. The quote of the night belongs to Hoosier conservative activist Greg Fettig: “The message to the establishment is, ‘You’re our servants. We’re the masters. Do what you’re supposed to do, adhere to the Constitution or we’ll fire you.'”