Long-time Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana went down to defeat in his party's primary election Tuesday at the hands of a corporate-funded tea party opponent, Richard Mourdock.
Lugar's defeat is seen as a loss to advocates for a sensible foreign policy.
"This Hoosier frequently endeavored to forge bipartisan coalitions to advance national security priorities. Lugar worked - that is - conspired with - the Obama White House to win ratification of the New START treaty reducing the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons," wrote David Corn in Mother Jones magazine. "This is indeed a genuine loss for those who care about arms control, nuclear nonproliferation, and foreign policy discussions that are serious and deep, not silly and opportunistic."
Lugar's loss is also seen as a threat to progressive Supreme Court nominations. "The most important and alarming facet of Lugar's defeat," wrote Jonathan Chail in the New York Times, "is one of the reasons Mourdock cited against him: Lugar voted to confirm two of Obama's Supreme Court nominees." The Republican senator backed the president's nominations of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan.
Mourdock, who is currently Indiana's state treasurer, has a long history of opposition to everything proposed by the Obama administration, including the loans it backed for the U.S. auto industry. Those loans were popular in Indiana because of the positive impact they had on job creation in the state.
Nevertheless Mourdock was the only government official in the nation to file suit against saving the auto industry.
Reasonable Republican lawmakers joined Democrats and many in big business who did not back Mourdock's court challenge because Indiana had large numbers of autoworkers who stood to benefit from saving the industry. The saving of their jobs, in turn, helped boost the economy and businesses in the entire state.
Lugar himself, after losing on Tuesday, attacked what he called the "tea party mindset" after he lost the primary election. Speaking with Salon he said, Mourdock's "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. 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."
Photo: Sen. Lugar. Talk Radio News Service // CC 2.0