Wednesday, May 09, 2012

GOP Extremists Take Down Senator Lugar - Are Democrats Real Winners?

The Republican Party is continuing its lurch to the lunatic far right as evidenced by the primary defeat of long term U.S. Senator Richard Lugar by Tea Party backed state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.  The reaction of Democrats is one of optimism since Lugar's long held seat may now be in play given Mourdock's extremism.  I hope the Democrats are right in their assessment.  Here are highlights from a Washington Post story: 
Republican Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, a 35-year member of the Senate and one of Washington’s leading experts on U.S. foreign policy, lost his bid for reelection Tuesday after a conservative backlash inside the GOP denied him his party’s nomination for a seventh term.

Lugar’s loss — the first for a senator this year — appears to be another victory for the tea party conservatives who roiled the Republican Party in 2010 when they defeated two GOP senators in primaries and knocked off several more establishment favorites in open Senate primaries.

In a statement Tuesday night, Lugar said: “If Mr. Mourdock is elected, I want him to be a good Senator. But that will require him to revise his stated goal of bringing more partisanship to Washington. He and I share many positions, but 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.” 
Democrats think Lugar’s primary loss will give them a shot at a seat that has been out of their reach for a long time. Six years ago, Lugar did not even face a Democratic challenger. The 2012 Democratic nominee is Rep. Joe Donnelly, and party members think his reputation as a centrist will stack up well against Mourdock.
Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, framed the fall matchup as a battle between “independent” Donnelly and “extreme” Mourdock.

Meanwhile, a column in the Washington Post argues that the extreme GOP 'purists" will be the party's downfall.  Again, I hope the author is right:

The forces that cost the GOP at least two Senate seats in 2010, including that of Majority Leader Harry Reid's, are still strong. The defeat of Senator Richard Lugar proves the short-sighted purists among the GOP have not been regionalized or marginalized. I don't have many disagreements with them on issues, but when it comes to winning elections and governing, I think they are a clear and present danger to the Republican Party and our chances of winning and governing.

I think the purists are misguided, but I also think I understand where they are coming from. I know these people. Many of them believe that the temperate voices in the Republican Party have at best only slowed the bad policies that have put America on a path toward decline and at worst, have been (unwittingly or not) complicit in the liberal's corrosive march toward a destruction of the American dream and a debasement of our culture. They are sincere but wrong. They are often in error, but never in doubt.

And history has taught us that sincerity by the crusaders doesn't always make them right.

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