Fate of Sen. Dick Lugar Candidacy Determined Today

May 8, 2012 02:09 AM
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Veteran senator behind in GOP primary polls

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), the long-time Indiana senator, is behind in the primary polls against GOP challenger Richard Mourdock.

The Washington Post (link) reports that Lugar is the "underdog" in today's primary contest with state Treasurer Mourdock (R), a "conservative challenger, threatening to end" the Senator's "36-year tenure not as his party's elder statesman on foreign affairs, but as an ousted moderate who had trouble explaining to voters where he lived." The Post adds that will polls showing him down, "many insiders think that Lugar's only chance for survival is by generating a large turnout of independent and Democratic voters in the Hoosier State's open contest."

The Associated Press (link) reports that heading into today's contest, Lugar "was hoping for a high turnout, but early voting was down by some 40 percent from the record set in 2008, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton crisscrossed Indiana in their tight contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. Nearly two-thirds of the some 89,000 early ballots were cast in the Republican primary."

The Indianapolis Star (link) notes that low turnout "favors incumbents such as Lugar, said Margaret Ferguson, chairwoman of the political science department at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. But she said candidates such as tea party favorite Mourdock can win if they have put in enough work to get out their base. ... 'Most of the people who vote in primaries are true believers,' Ferguson said."

Comments: If Lugar is defeated in the primary, Democrats think they have a chance to wrest control of the Senate seat. If so, that would make it harder for the Republicans to capture control of the Senate in Nov. 6 national elections. Representative Joe Donnelly is the Democratic candidate. The GOP primary, in part, will help determine if the tea party, which backs Mourdock, has much punch left.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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