Richard Lugar: The Fall of a RINO
The conservative movement had a great victory this week when Indiana Senator Dick Lugar lost to State Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the Republican Primary by a staggering twenty percent. Many in the liberal media are crying crocodile tears about Dick Lugar’s loss, calling him a “statesman” and an “institution” in the United States Senate. The fact is, Dick Lugar failed to earn his party’s nomination because he had completely lost touch with his party and fellow Hoosiers. On the final day of his losing campaign, Dick Lugar was at a waste water treatment plant touting earmarks. Can you say “tone deaf”?
Senator Lugar was the consummate Establishment Republican, having served in the United States Senate for thirty-five years. He did not legislate in the conservative mold - he didn’t have to because he rarely had a serious challenger in a primary, if he had any at all. Senator Lugar was never checked until this year.
That is why Senator Lugar felt free to vote for President Obama’s U.S. Supreme Court nominees Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. Some people call Lugar’s vote for those two liberal justices bi-partisan, but I call it foolish and dangerous to the conservative ideals we hold so dear. Both Kagan and Sotomayor are expected to decide in favor of Obamacare and, after then-Solicitor General Kagan argued for the government, Sotomayor voted against Citizens United’s landmark victory in Citizens United v. FEC.
During the 2010 lame duck session, Senator Lugar caved on the START nuclear arms treaty with Russia. The treaty gave up too many concessions to Russia and risked our missile defense systems. Senator Lugar bucked his party and called for a vote on START because he knew the more conservative incoming Senate could never meet the sixty-seven vote threshold. Lugar was again called a “statesman” for his actions and praised by President Obama and Vice President Biden for helping to muscle the flawed START Treaty through.
Conservatives took notice of these betrayals and knew, with the 2010 wind at our backs, we needed to find the right candidate to take on Dick Lugar. In August of 2011, Citizens United Political Victory Fund (CUPVF), the affiliated PAC of Citizens United, endorsed Richard Mourdock. CUPVF backed Richard Mourdock because he was the true conservative in the race, and the endorsement came on the heels of Dick Lugar’s vote for the much maligned debt deal last summer. Like the little engine that could, Richard Mourdock ran a smart and effective campaign that stuck to the conservative issues Hoosiers cared about. Mourdock received other key endorsements from Freedom Works and the Club for Growth. Along with CUPVF, these groups were pivotal in helping educate the voters about Lugar’s liberal voting record.
It was unfortunate to see groups tied to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and former Senator Norm Coleman coming in and supporting Dick Lugar at the end of the campaign. Norm Coleman is a fellow RINO so he kind of gets a pass. But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor playing in a United States Senate race on the side of Dick Lugar just does not make any political sense at all. I hope that we do not see this same mistake by the Majority Leader in the future. It is already a tough environment out there, and conservatives need to stick together.
With the defeat of Dick Lugar this week, I hope all Republicans in Congress take notice, whether they are in leadership or freshmen. Never take the people who voted for you for granted and never compromise on your core conservative values. The people have a funny way of responding if you do otherwise. Just ask Dick Lugar.