Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Statesman Lugar's Parting Shot a Gift to Democrats

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Statesman Lugar's Parting Shot a Gift to Democrats

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - He may have been ousted in Tuesday's Republican primary, but U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar was not going quietly. As he stood in front of cameras with his family delivering his concession speech, the six-term senator's campaign staff walked around the back of the ballroom, handing reporters a written statement he did not read from the stage.

It was quite a rebuke of the man who had just beaten him, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

In it, Lugar said that to be a good senator, Mourdock would need to get over his distaste for bipartisanship. Otherwise, Lugar said, Mourdock would "achieve little as a legislator."

"His embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for Hoosiers in the Senate," Lugar wrote.

"In effect, what he has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party."

No wonder the reaction Wednesday morning, as the election's dust settled.

"I think there were things there I wouldn't have said," Gov. Mitch Daniels said in an acknowledgment the statement put Republicans who were trying to put the primary behind them and rally around Mourdock's candidacy put them in an awkward position.

Then came Mourdock's Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, who said Lugar "pretty well hit it on the head."

No doubt Donnelly's team will be keeping that statement handy, perhaps for television advertisements this fall.

For now, let's ignore Lugar's assessment of a campaign in which he was defeated, 61 percent to 39 percent, and focus instead on what he had to say about the nation's political climate.

He criticized the pledges that interest groups ask candidates to sign, saying that fealty to those promises makes hammering out legislation that can achieve enough support to pass much harder.

He said many topics have become "politically unmentionable. …

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