By Chad Pergram, Cristina Marcos, FoxNews
Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) lost a primary battle Tuesday to tea arty challenger and Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock for the seat he has held since 1977.
Lugar’s defeat makes him the first and likely only senator to lose renomination this year.
After returns from the primary came in, Lugar conceded to Mourdock before a crowd of supporters. He says he wants to see a Republican in the White House and will support Mourdock in his race against Democrat Joe Donnelly for the Senate seat.
Mourdock’s supporters cast Lugar as too moderate and out of touch after 35 years in the Senate. The American Conservative Union gave Lugar a 77 percent “lifetime” rating. Lugar’s supporters claimed it hardly constituted a moderate voting record. But tea party conservatives argued Mourdock would provide more “purity” and wouldn’t bow to compromise with Democrats.
Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and John McCain (R-AZ) avoided situations similar to Lugar’s by moving further to the right ideologically. Lugar, however, initially refused to do the same. He didn’t run a slew of negative advertisements against his opponent until late in the primary campaign. Even then, some critics said they stood in contrast to his reputation as a statesman.
Lugar’s campaign spent $6.7 million compared to Mourdock’s $2 million. But Mourdock’s political action committees spent $2.9 million attacking Lugar over the incumbent backers’ $1.7 million.
One advertisement from Mourdock’s campaign called Lugar “President Obama’s favorite Republican.” It showed clips of President Obama saying, “I’ve worked with Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law” and “What I did was reach out to Senator Dick Lugar.”
Lugar, 80, built a Senate career largely focused on foreign policy. The two-time chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee became a leading voice on nuclear weapons. His signature achievement was the 1991 Nunn-Lugar Act, which he wrote with former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA).