Lugar's frustration surfaces after Indiana defeat

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Conceding defeat for the first time in nearly four decades, U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar embodied his reputation as a diplomat by graciously pledging to support the tea party-backed rival who had just ousted him by carrying 61 percent of the vote.

But hours later, the Indiana Republican's tone changed dramatically. His campaign issued a scathing statement Tuesday night chastising primary winner Richard Mourdock for his partisan ways and lamenting a Washington, D.C., that doesn't value compromise.

"I don't remember a time when so many topics have become politically unmentionable in one party or the other," the 80-year-old senator wrote. "Republicans cannot admit to any nuance in policy on climate change. Republican members are now expected to take pledges against any tax increases. For two consecutive presidential nomination cycles, GOP candidates competed with one another to express the most strident anti-immigration view, even at the risk of alienating a huge voting bloc."

He saved the sharpest criticism for Mourdock, slamming the state treasurer for embracing "groups whose prime mission is to cleanse the Republican Party of those who stray from orthodoxy as they see it."

"This is not conducive to problem solving and governance," Lugar said. "And he will find that unless he modifies his approach, he will achieve little as a legislator. Worse, he will help delay solutions that are totally beyond the capacity of partisan majorities to achieve."

The comments underscored the frustration for the longtime face of Indiana politics who built a career on his willingness to compromise and broker deals, only to see those traits become a liability for Indiana's conservative electorate.

Mourdock, who had lost four other political races before being elected as the state's treasurer, said he read the election results as a vote for his candidacy, not against Lugar's.

"He is not now my enemy," Mourdock, who will face Rep. Joe Donnelly in November, said in his victory speech. "He will never be my enemy. He was simply over the last 15 months my opponent ... this race is not about animosity. It's about ideas."

While the challenger took the high road, former Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Souder said Lugar's statement sounded like it was written by staff members trying to save their own careers after a disastrous campaign.

"This is petty," said Souder, who stayed out of the primary battle. "If he's going to re-emerge at some sort of state department position or Cabinet post, there are lots of different things you can do. But when you whine and get defensive, you draw it out. You get another cycle of stories. What you do when you lose is you cut your losses."

As the leading Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Lugar has long been considered one of the Congress' experts on foreign policy. He is a leading voice for a nuclear non-proliferation treaty with Russia and has often been mentioned as a potential Cabinet secretary. During a 2008 presidential debate, then-candidate Barack Obama suggested even he might consider the Indiana senator for a job in his administration.

That was too much for tea party Republicans and other conservatives who have shunned compromise with the president and other Democrats.

After the election results were announced, Obama praised Lugar, saying he "served his constituents and his country well."

Mourdock, who lost three races for Congress between 1988 and 1992 and a race for secretary of state in 2002, ran on claims that his conservative credentials better represent the state. He got a big boost from outside groups that poured millions into the race, attacking Lugar on his record.

They also had a field day with a challenge over whether he was eligible to vote in the state, where he hadn't had a home since being elected to the Senate in 1977. Lugar, who hadn't faced questions about his residency in decades, suddenly found himself on the defensive over whether he lived in Indiana or northern Virginia.

Lugar tried to convince voters that he was more electable than Mourdock. He pointed to Senate races in 2010 where tea party candidates won the Republican nomination in Colorado, Delaware and Nevada but lost to Democrats in the general election, foiling opportunities for Republicans to pick up those seats.

His departure further depletes the ranks of moderates in the Senate. Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine and Democrats Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Jim Webb of Virginia have said they won't seek re-election, and several other moderates face tough races ahead.

Many voters said Tuesday that they backed Mourdock after supporting Lugar for years, citing criticisms that had never mattered before but that he struggled this time to shake, including questions over his age, connection to the state, use of attack ads and conservative credentials.

Rob Dalton, a 52-year-old handyman from Indianapolis, said he had supported Lugar previously but voted for Mourdock because he felt Lugar had been in Washington too long.

"Lugar's been there too long, and I want a change," he said. "There's a lot of good old boy politics going on. We need new blood."

Obama carried Indiana in 2008, partly because of his ties to the populous northwestern part of the state neighboring his hometown of Chicago. Democrats acknowledge it will be difficult to win Indiana again this year. Still, the state could become more hospitable to Obama if the Democrats spend heavily to compete against Mourdock.

Lugar, who hadn't lost an election since his first Senate race in 1974, said he had no regrets about seeking re-election and will not run as an independent in November.

"I am a Republican now and always have been," he said. "I have no desire to run as anything else."


  • Still doesn't get it
    I'm simply amazed at anyone who can look out at the big cesspool known as Washington DC and conclude that what is really needed is more compromise. Really Lugar? You don't get it, and apparently losing your job won't help. Of course Republicans are expected to pledge no new taxes -- because of the hundreds of reps and senators we've sent to Washington to lower taxes, who instead decided to "compromise" with their "fellow gentlemen across the aisle." Federal, state and local taxes combined already eat up nearly 50% of working Americans' income -- in some looney-toons places like NY even more. How much would you like to compromise my tax rate to Lugar, 100%? Want to just take it all? Maybe you should have "crossed the aisle" less often, and thought about spending less instead of taxing more. Maybe that's why you got sent home? Oh, and this is priceless -- you're worried about not getting votes from Illegal aliens? Why instead, in your 36 year career didn't you make it illegal to be an illegal? Instead, you joined with your communist brothers across the aisle to open the floodgates -- you wouldn't have to worry about not getting their votes if you hadn't let them in to begin with. Thank God we finally got rid of you and your compromises, and if Richard Mourdock goes to Washington and doesn't accomplish anything because he refuses to compromise, it will be the GREATEST accomplishment for Indiana in the last 36 years.
  • This May Be A Mistake
    I fear that our drive to send a message to Washington might just open the door for the Democrats in November.
  • Statesman, or Patsy?
    In reading the post mortem on Lugar, everyone touts what a great statesman he was, willing to work across the aisle. I've read about his voting for liberal Supreme Court members, gun control laws, and sponsoring a bill to aid illegal aliens. What did he get in return? Isn't the point of compromise to give up something in order to get something in return? If you don't get something in return, you're not a statesman, you're a patsy
  • PR Chef
    I've never commented on a comment, but I'll help you pack and drive you to the station...I'll even help with the plane ticket. We don't need more thoughtless, emotional wrecks in our country stiring up the pot. It's funny how those most critial of other people's opinions are the ones that talk with such anger and vitriol...and you can't tell me you never go to Walmart...everyone does, no matter how big their egos.
    • Age and Longevity
      Based on the discussions I had with folks in Southern Indiana, Lugar's moderate stances on select issues weren't the core problem - the fact that he had been in the Senate 36 years already and is 80 years old were. The residency issue didn't help either.
    • Dear King,
      I agree with much of what you say, but the facts concerning the debt do not support your statements. Low taxes and fiscal responsibility are not synomymous. The greatest increase in debt as a percentage of existing debt began with the Reagan tax cuts and have continued since. The percentage incease in national debt has been just as great during the Republican administrations as the Democratic ones for the last 30+ years. Tax cuts, while contining to spend are as irresponsible as it gets. We are rapidly approaching that point of no return. 49% pay no taxes now, why would they want the spending to stop?
    • Bye Senator Lugar
      Lugar lost touch with what his constituency wanted, fairly simple. First, we like our political representatives to live in our state. Second, distance yourself from our current socialist leader. Third, it is time for a change. With the loss of the primary, Mr. Lugar, you also lose the right to tell the winner how to be successful in his new role as the state's next senator.
    • Independent
      The Senator can't run again...evan as an Independent.
    • Time for a change . . .
      Of country. I'm looking at the tea leaves and it is has become very clear that once the Grover Norquist Gun Toting Anti-Woman Anti-Choice Club of mostly middle age reborn angry white men wins in November, it will truly signal the end of democracy. The government will be a totalitarian regime. As a legislator was quoted last week in Governing said, "I swore on the Bible to uphold the Constitution. I did not swear on the Constitution to uphold the Bible." I'm not going to stay in Indiana, or the US. It's time to get out. All of you Wal-mart shoppers can experience all the buyers remorse you will have deservedly brought upon yourselves.
      • Frustration Abounds
        Senator Lugar has proven, over a long period of time, that he loves this country deeply and wants what is best for the country. Because of that love, his keen mind, and his knowledge of history, he sees very clearly that the hate/fear mongering, lack of willingness to compromise, and unwillingness to have a civil discourse where the truth matters are harmful to the health of the country and its citizens. I'm sure that he, like many of us, is very concerned about the direction of the country and frustrated as to how we can turn this dangerous trend around. He is, in my book, still a great statesman and it is my hope that he will use his abundant skills to be a voice for what is right and that he'll play a role in helping us get back on track.
      • We forget...
        ...the man is 80. My mother is a very spry and productive 85 (may she keep going for many more years), but for the past 2 or 3 years you can tell that even she is beginning to slip. Was Strom Thurmond able to give his best to the job at the end? And, considering the missteps that he made this time around, would Lugar?
      • We got a divorce!
        You are correct, BigJer, we have a two-party system, similar to a marriage. For years, the electorate has been communicating with our partner (Lugar) that he has strayed beyond allowable boundaries. It reached the point where we sought a divorce as over time, we reached irreconcilable differences. Yes, compromise is essential for the relationship to work, but that doesn’t mean you cave on EVERYTHING and sometimes it isn’t possible. If your partner comes to you with a list of 100 things they want and you budget doesn’t support ANY of them, do you give in anyway? Not if you are responsible.
        Oh, and your comment about it taking 20-30 years to get into this amount of debt is mistaken. We had a surplus in the budget year for 2000. Since the current administration took over three years ago, Congress, the part of the Federal government with any spending power, has spent more money than all the previous administrations – COMBINED!!! And who was leading the train wreck, free-spending Democrats Reid and Pelosi with Obama signing his approval.
        • Behind as usual
          Indiana is, as usual, a couple of years behind the rest of the country--in this case, voters jumping on the Tea Party bandwagon. My only hope is that we're the last state to fall for this claptrap.
        • Unfortunate, it's not about you
          It's unfortunate that after a few drinks a statement is issued thanks speaks to arrogance and entitledment. Those are the very 2 reasons Mr. Lugar lost. It's not about you, and when you forget who you work for you get fired. Sadly, this overshadows some of the good that Mr. Lugar has done
        • Its only a primary
          Sorry to see Dick Lugar lose but Mourdock will at very best be a 1 term Senator. Most likely though he will lose in November. What is the tea party??? Funny how both Bush's and even the esteeemed Senator from Arizona called Lugar the best foreign relations person they new and a great Republican - but ehy dont know anything. Go Donnely and thanks Dick Lugar for always putting Indiana and the United States first
        • Go Home to DC Dick !
          Great man, Mayor & Senator! 36 years and 80 years in age is ENOUGH! People voted against Lugar, not for Mourdock! If Lugar was in touch with his hoosier roots he would have pledged this to be his last election and to sell his suburban DC home and move back to Indiana, but he didn't do so... was he hoping to be another Strom Thurmond? Now let's see where "home" really is for the Lugars retirement, is it Indiana or Washington D.C.?
        • Government isn't the solution
          Dick Lugar lost for a simple reason. Government isn't the solution. Lugar was for more government, not less. More compromise means a bigger, revenue-hungrier, government. If you were really wanting the government to "fix" things, you would have to start back on square one, and eliminate as many government bureacracies and regulation as possible. Cut Government regulation not by 10%, but by 80%. Cut the IRS code down to 6 pages, from 14,000 pages, and eliminate Congress's vote buying schemes of changing the tax code, and watch tax revenues jump through the roof as our economy starts to grow again.
        • I agree
          I agree that the political shifting to extreme right or extreme left is destroying the country. Mourdock will not help find solutions. I will move my vote to the democratic party in this senate race.
        • Arrogance
          One word characterises the actions of an 80 year old not accepting the fact that it is time to move on and retire...Arrogance...definition "offensive display of superiortity or self-importance; overbearing pride"
        • We're worse off now
          Lugar's comments, whether by his own pen or staff are correct. The difference between the Senator and Mourdock is that Sen. Lugar is a Statesman, where Mourdock is just another politician. What the state and the country need right now are more leaders such as the Senator - not more partisan politicians. I too hope the Senator runs as an Independent.
        • Uncompromising
          Mr. Lugar commits the same folly in his comments that he is accusing the tea party in general and Mourdock in particular - being inflexible. Perhaps, once he gets over being beaten, he can offer Mr. Mourdock some help and guidance. Compromise is NOT the key to good governance, Knowing WHEN to compromise and when to hold firm IS the key to good governance. If representative can't support the values of a majority of their constituents, then they cease to "represent" - which is why Mr. Lugar is headed into retirement.
        • Take Our Party Back!
          Sen. Lugar is right. And, as a long-time Republican who now lives in a district led by TWO candidates (Mourdock and Brooks) whose campaigns were based on a promise to be and remain obstructionists, maybe it's time to take our party back from the Tea Party, the ultra-right, the one-issue candidates and voters. Sen. Lugar is a tremendous loss to Indiana and to the nation.
        • Payback hmmm
          I have always and forever voted for the Senator. However, when he voted for Obama's Supreme Court appointments, I wrote to him telling him he had got my last vote. I wrote him again yesterday telling him I kept my promise. It was time, but I do appreciate his years of service when he still had his core beliefs.
        • Be careful what you wish for...
          The happiest man today is not Richard Mourdock.

          It is Joe Donnelly.

          The feeling of dread will soon appear when Mourdock supporters realize they have been played by their true opponent.

          Richard Lugar spoke the truth and will get the last laugh for being right.
        • Very well put, Senator Lugar
          I hope that he runs as an independent! Mourdock's win is bad for the middle class, bad for the Stare, bad for the Country and bad for the World. It is good, however, for the 1% and the very wealthy.
        • The Repubican Party Let Me
          The Texas nut jobs got there revenge.

          Don't like the people at this party anymore.

        • Grover Norquest Influence on GOP
          Lugar was one of the very few GOP politicians that refused to sign Grover Norquest's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge", which is a formal written promise to NEVER raise revenue from taxes. There are NO exceptions to the Pledge. Even wars and natural disasters must be financed by spending cuts, never taxes. (www.atr.org). This is the single biggest reason nothing is getting done in the Congress and the Senate! With no comprimise, nothing gets done. We will end up like Greece if this continues!

          That is why we must put pressure on all our GOP representatives to compromise on tax issues and be an American, 1st, not a Norquest puppet!

        • I agree with Lugar
          His comments are an explicity clear snapshot of today's political climate. "Republicans cannot admit to any nuance in policy on climate change. Republican members are now expected to take pledges against any tax increases. For two consecutive presidential nomination cycles, GOP candidates competed with one another to express the most strident anti-immigration view, even at the risk of alienating a huge voting bloc." and
          "This is not conducive to problem solving and governance," Lugar said. "And he will find that unless he modifies his approach, he will achieve little as a legislator. Worse, he will help delay solutions that are totally beyond the capacity of partisan majorities to achieve."

          I used to be a Republican, but the tone and demeaner of the "new" Republican party has alienated me. It is good to have views from the "right" and the "left". Take those views into account and govern down the middle. The art of compromise, so necessary in all relationships, is gone in our government.
        • Jason Agree but....
          Your right, if you are in debt you should stop getting into more debt and save. However, I would NOT tell you to not pay the debt you have (ie stop making your car payment), I would tell not to buy more cars. Slashing entitlements to those already receiving them is akin to calling Ford and saying I'm only going to pay $200 month for the car I agreed to pay $400 month.

          You get out of debt by doing it reasonably not by just stop paying your bills.

          FOr example, My family goes out to dinner once a week. I might go to my wife and kids and say we need to save money, let's not go out every week let's go out everyother week. They might comeback and say no we want to go out every week, but one week we will do a nice restaurant and the next casual cheaper restaurant and save money that way. SEE COMPROMISE not MY WAY only.

          If two sides just stream at each other and refuse to compromise guess what happens - NOTHING
        • How is Communism doing?
          Andrew's post sounds like a page right out of the Flea Party/Occupy manifesto. What no bridges to blow up today?

          Capitalism works just fine when big government doesn't try to interfere. The majority of Americans want less government involvement in their lives. The Flea party, much like big unions, want everything handed to them on a silver platter. That is not how it works.

          Wake up, turn off MSNBC and "Occupy" a job.
        • @Andrew re: Capitalism is broken
          It's very clear you don't understand what this country was originated as and what it stands for. The communists have proven that there is no such thing as a utopian society. Spain and France have proven that socialism can't and won't work.

          Health care reform sounds great on the surface, but who's paying for it?

          Solar energy sounds great but who's subsidising the costs?

          If people really want these things, they will pay for it. Unfortunately, this is where the government has stepped in and picked up the check. Look at where that has gotten us.
          Every day I see first hand that we are turning into a entitled society. People expect handouts. They expect the government to bail them out. Our workforce has become lazy and complacent.
          The government has provent that it cannot run anything efficiently, so why is it trying to run eveything? If I was way in debt and kept spending on things I didn't need, wouldn't you tell me to stop spending and save my money? Exactly
          • Bruce, you're comment proves the Tea Party is a joke.
            The title says it all Bruce. Until there is more than 2 parties, we need more Lugars on both sides of the aisles and less Freshmen hack Senators.
          • Lugar is RIGHT
            I totally agree with Lugar. We have a 2 party system not a Dictatorship. Have you ever not bought a house or worked with someone else on a project. Even marriage is a partnership. If you barge in and say this is the WAY nothing else, nothing is what you will get.

            The thing I consistently do not understand is that it took us 20 - 30 years to get into this much debt, we can't expect nor do we need to get out of it in 1 year. If we get back to zero new debt than take on the old debt at 5%/year we will be fine.
            • Will be considered a number only
              Democrat or Republican either will be facing the reality that they will be a Freshman Senator that will be simply a vote. All this political posturing will mean little when either arrives in D.C. They can say what they want but when they are sworn in they will soon learn how powerless they are.
            • Capitalism is broken
              The right-wing has hijacked the American constitution and an individuals right to pursue happiness. Paired with a total lack of willingness to compromise that these Tea-partiers exhibit, we can all expect another increasingly unproductive legislative session. Its incredible people feel the President is the one unwilling to compromise, when you look past the Fox News bullet points you can see he is a moderate that has caved to GOP fillibusters multiple times and abandoned many of the progressive policies that encouraged people to vote for him. As a more extreme right wing wins elections over the country, you're seeing ridiculous legislative agendas such as constitutional amendments against gay marriage, defining the moment of conception as an embryo, and a continued assault against labor through the mischievously titled 'right to work' movement (really its just a race to the bottom, with huge profits for corporations and deteriorating wages and rights for workers). Tax hikes for the top 1% are unimaginable for conservatives, even though in 1980 the rate was 70% compared to todays average 18.1%. To compensate for this miraculous loss in revenue, the right wants to cut education and social spending under the moniker of 'tough love, get a job' - which of course is the result of successful capitalist indoctrination into the capitalist story. With this current conservative renaissance off of a cliff, it'll take years for this country to seriously look at handling issues such as debt, reining in the military industrial complex, breaking up wall st, solving our 3rd world infrastructure problems, and restarting our education system.
              • Tea Party
                When are these old, entrenched politicians going to get it? The people are sick and tired of self serving politicians not working for the good of the country, and the will of the people who elected them. Lugar did not even live in the state he represented!! Not acceptable!!! The TEA PARTY is the first real light at the end of the tunnel I have seen. I may not agree with everything they stand for, but, they are saying and doing what the vast MAJORITY of the people want!! And, the so called pundits, and, experts better understand! WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY! WE ARE GETTING STRONGER EVERY DAY!!!
                • Bitter old man
                  Lugar's bitterness and lack of professionalism in defeat just makes me feel better about voting against him. I was a bit on the fence when I voted for Mourdock, but Lugar's conduct has confirmed that I made the right choice.
                • Compromise?
                  I just don't understand the term 'compromise' in political terms, when the President wants the GOP to cave, while he continues to stand firm on his issues and he KNOWS that a majority of the US doesn't agree with him. It's in this climate Sen. Lugars' defeat came. Knowing that he ( the president) is loading up the Supreme Court.to the Left and cause future problems, yet he blindly, and calmly lets him have his way by voting with him. And with these votes, he calls himself a Conservative!?
                  THAT"S why he lost. Sour old grapes make a very,very bitter old bottle of whine.
                  • Lugar Forgot With Whom He Came to the Dance....
                    I remember being excited to vote for Lugar in 1976. He seemed eager to represent Indiana values. And, for a while, he did. Washington, however, has a way of changing people quickly. Over the years, Lugar became more and more a liberal. By 2000, he was a Republican in name only. As long as he had the cover of a Republican President, he could scam his way back into office. Barack Hussein changed all of that. Lugar couldn't hide his school-girl crush for the man and it was his political end. Richard Lugar literally abandoned Indiana 35 years ago. It's taken a while, but the right candidate and circumstances came along to finally get rid of him. Good riddance. Mourdock is exactly what we need at this critical time in Congress.

                  Post a comment to this story

                  COMMENTS POLICY
                  We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
                  You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
                  Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
                  No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
                  We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

                  Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

                  Sponsored by

                  facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

                  Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
                  Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
                  Subscribe to IBJ
                  1. I never thought I'd see the day when a Republican Mayor would lead the charge in attempting to raise every tax we have to pay. Now it's income taxes and property taxes that Ballard wants to increase. And to pay for a pre-K program? Many studies have shown that pre-K offer no long-term educational benefits whatsoever. And Ballard is pitching it as a way of fighting crime? Who is he kidding? It's about government provided day care. It's a shame that we elected a Republican who has turned out to be a huge big spending, big taxing, big borrowing liberal Democrat.

                  2. Why do we blame the unions? They did not create the 11 different school districts that are the root of the problem.

                  3. I was just watching an AOW race from cleveland in 1997...in addition to the 65K for the race, there were more people in boats watching that race from the lake than were IndyCar fans watching the 2014 IndyCar season finale in the Fontana grandstands. Just sayin...That's some resurgence modern IndyCar has going. Almost profitable, nobody in the grandstands and TV ratings dropping 61% at some tracks in the series. Business model..."CRAZY" as said by a NASCAR track general manager. Yup, this thing is purring like a cat! Sponsors...send them your cash, pronto!!! LOL, not a chance.

                  4. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

                  5. Funny thing....rich people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............