May 9, 2012 at 4:20 PM
Mourdock’s Indiana win leaves Lugar speechless
Indiana Senator-elect Richard Mourdock’s victory spells the retirement of one of last remaining voices of bipartisanship right of the aisle.
INDIANAPOLIS — Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock dethroned six-term incumbent Dick Lugar by 20 points yesterday — sounding a siren for D.C. insiders and sending shock waves as far west as Washington State.
Moderation is fading from American politics as more extreme positions espoused by candidates like Mourdock triumph.
This is music to the ears of Suzy Barnhart, one of five field directors Mourdock trusted to coordinate his GOP Senate campaign from one corner of the state to the other. “We did it! We did it!” she shouted into her cell phone before Mourdock’s victory party Tuesday. “We worked so hard to spread our message… and now [Lugar] is out. He’s out!”
MSNBC called the race for Mourdock with a mere 17% of votes tabulated — news that surely crushed the spirit of the only six-term senator ever to lose an election. So crushing, perhaps, Lugar may have needed a lot of extra time to let it all sink in.
At 9:45 pm last night — fully two hours after the Associated Press projected the lopsided Lugar loss — a Mourdock aide confirmed nobody was aware of any concession call from Lugar to Mourdock.
Lugar had congratulated Mourdock on a “hard-fought race” during his speech at about 8pm, but that still left Lugar at least half an hour to call Mourdock before the two-term state treasurer arrived late to his own victory celebration.
Imagine Mourdock’s disappointment in surviving a brutal 15-month campaign, erasing a big deficit in the polls to beat a Beltway legend by 20, then never hearing his cell ring. Even while basking in the bright glow of victory, it had to be a bit unsatisfying — especially because Mourdock made a point to warmly thank Lugar and join in on almost a minute of sustained applause during his victory speech.
Thirty-plus years is a long time to get comfortable in a U.S. Senate seat. The thirty-plus minutes Lugar had to call Mourdock — but didn’t — had to seem even longer.