Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully penned a column today contending that if a faction of the GOP was to push for a primary ousting of Sen. Richard Lugar in 2012, it would be an ill-fated and ill-advised decision. He writes:
However unrealistic it seems, it would be foolish to assume any long-term incumbent is untouchable, given the mood of the voting public of late. And most Republican insiders I’ve talked to expect Lugar to indeed face a challenge from a faction of the GOP that thinks he’s been in D.C. too long and worked with Democrats too often.
Still, there are reasons to believe Lugar will not suffer the same fate that has ended the political careers of some of his Senate colleagues. Here are five:
Some social conservatives complain about Lugar, but he remains popular in the eyes of mainstream conservatives. Some ideologues portray Lugar as a liberal, a ridiculous suggestion for a guy who, according to The Washington Post, has voted with his party 84 percent of the time this year. That’s one percentage point less than the Senate GOP average. "There may be disagreements on certain policies," said Luke Messer, a former executive director of the Indiana Republican Party. "But he is deeply respected by Republicans.
If Lugar does face a tough battle from the far right, many Democrats and independents likely would cross over to vote in the GOP primary in order to back him. "People on our side respect Dick Lugar," said former state Democratic Chairman Robin Winston.
Gov. Mitch Daniels, who worked for Lugar for years, remains extremely popular. His support would help the senator. Additionally, the well-run political organizations of the two men have worked closely together and likely would continue to do so.
Unlike some of his colleagues on the front end of the anti-incumbent wave, Lugar won’t be caught off guard. He has already made clear he is running again, a shrewd move that should keep any top-tier Republicans from entertaining the idea of a run.
And here’s the final reason Lugar won’t lose in 2012: Hoosiers are smarter than that.
I’d like to "go rogue" here and offer my personal thoughts as a voter (which do not necessarily reflect the position of the Indiana Chamber): As someone who falls in the political center (a.k.a. abyss) of this conservative/liberal paradigm that’s been shoveled out in modern American politics, I find folks like Sen. Lugar to be rather refreshing in their willingness to think, compromise and generally try to make government actually work.
While it can be fun to draw ideological lines in the sand, get sanctimonious about protecting your team and toss around catchy barbs like "RINO," it’s far more productive to discuss ideas, consider the other side’s point of view and actually try to enact helpful legislation when the time warrants it. Personally, I’d argue Sen. Lugar has done that honorably for years.