Republican conservatives in Indiana gunning for Lugar

May 3, 2012

By Paige Winfield Cunningham-The Washington Times

Tea party sympathizers continue shelling Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana as they work to defeat him in next week’s primary, which is shaping up as the premiere chance for the political movement to capture a senior Republican scalp in this year’s elections.

The pressure on Mr. Lugar, a six-term incumbent, grew Wednesday when taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota became the latest to endorse his opponent, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. A new poll found the two in a dead heat ahead of Tuesday’s contest.

Mr. Lugar has enjoyed decades of popularity in the state, but his across-the-aisle style of legislating has left him vulnerable in a political environment wary of bipartisan deal-making. He is struggling to sell his experience to voters as a benefit even as he defends a long history of votes that are catching up to him.

The latest barb came when Mr. Norquist attacked Mr. Lugar for refusing to sign a no-new-taxes pledge and endorsing Mr. Mourdock.

“This would have been the opportunity for Lugar to acknowledge the mistakes he made in ‘82 and ‘90 signing on to massive tax increases,”Mr. Norquist said. “He could have said to the people of Indiana, ‘I’m never going to fall for that again,’ but instead he said, ‘I’m willing to be fooled again.’ That’s a curious position.”

Overall, the tea party has been quieter compared with 2010, when activists defeated GOP incumbents or preferred establishment candidates in Utah, Alaska, Delaware, Nevada, Florida, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

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