11:50 am May. 9, 2012
Senator Richard Lugar's ignominious defeat yesterday in Indiana's Republican primary, in which he received just 40 percent of the vote against an unabashedly uncompromising Tea Party candidate, Richard Mourdock, might be an ominous sign for the future functioning of the Senate.
The New York Times quotes Senator Chuck Schumer as proof that Mourdock's rhetoric has Democrats "seething."
But, in strictly campaign terms, Schumer and the Democrats are more likely celebrating what will now be a chance to recreate the circumstances of a couple of their 2010 victories, when Democrats in tough races were able to hang on by capturing the middle against extreme-sounding Tea Party candidates.
In 2006, when Schumer ran the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the party rode an anti-George W. Bush tide to defeat of six Republican incumbents. But Lugar was considered so safe that Schumer didn't even bother to field a Democratic challenger that year.
Lugar won with 87 percent of the vote. (A Libertarian candidate picked up the other 13 percent.)
The lone quote in this morning's Times story that's not from Mourdock is one from Schumer, who is now tasked with crafting the party's message, which includes framing the Republican Party as beholden to the Tea Party faction.
“He says there’s a problem, Mourdock does, of too much bipartisanship and he can be counted on to obstruct,” Schumer told the Times. “Well, there are a lot of things wrong in Washington, but too much compromise is certainly not one of them.”
Even if they don't win in Indiana, where Republicans enjoy a registration advantage, it's now an opportunity for Democrats to make the G.O.P. play defense on turf that was once considered untouchable.
A fund-raising email sent out this morning by the Mourdock campaign seems to state the premise pretty clearly: "We know conservatives will rally behind us. The NRA, Tea Party Express, Club for Growth, National Review and others have already endorsed us. But we need your support now if we expect to win, and help conservatives take over the U.S. Senate in 2012."
More from the email below:
The good news. Thanks to folks like you, Conservatives united and we just pulled off a historic upset of Senator Dick Lugar in the Indiana GOP primary!
The bad news. We're now facing a tough General Election campaign, and our bank accounts are depleted. We left everything on the table to win the primary. And our opponent, Joe Donnelly, has over $800,000 to spend immediately in an attempt to smear us to start the General.
That's why I talked to my staff, and we just launched our Match Donnelly Money Bomb. I absolutely need you to join in.
Joe Donnelly has been a loyal soldier for Barack Obama. He was a deciding vote on ObamaCare. He voted for Obama's Stimulus program and his bailouts. Donnelly voted for Obama's policies so often that the President calls him his "Partner."
It's no surprise that Obama's SuperPACs are gearing up to spend millions for Donnelly.
You can understand why we must Match Donnelly's $800,000 immediately. It's incredibly important that we are able to respond to the Obama/Donnelly attack machine.
We know conservatives will rally behind us. The NRA, Tea Party Express, Club for Growth, National Review and others have already endorsed us. But we need your support now if we expect to win, and help conservatives take over the U.S. Senate in 2012.
U.S. Senate, Indiana
P.S. We just won a tough fight for conservatives all across the nation. Every voter and donor played a vital role. To win, we left everything on the table and it took every dollar we had. Help us get ready to face the Obama/Donnelly attack machine by making a contribution today.