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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: Christine O’Donnell

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May 6, 2012 at 7:55 AM

Tea Party poised for tectonic upset in Indiana Senate race

PAC rally for Mourdock

Ginni Schneider grabbed new GOP primary frontrunner Richard Mourdock for a hug at Tea Party rally in downtown Indianapolis on May 5, 2012. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

Richard Mourdock has surged past six-term incumbent U.S. Senator Dick Lugar in the latest poll ahead of Indiana’s GOP primary on Tuesday. UWEE caught up with the Indiana Tea Party favorite on his Saturday afternoon stroll of Indiana’s Veterans Memorial Plaza in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS –  All signs suggest legendary Sen. Dick Lugar is going to lose Tuesday in a nationally watched Republican Party primary. That’s why I came to Indiana this weekend.

What I found was his likely conqueror, Richard Mourdock, walking around kissing babies and shaking hands with adults on Saturday at a Tea Party event. It was American retail politics at its best and most surreal.

Mourdock was prevented by Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules from appearing on stage at an event sponsored by the Political Action Committee (PAC) Freedom Works, but the FEC could not prevent Mourdock, the Indiana State Treasurer, from working the crowd at a Hoosier Conservatives Rally.

Certainly the government watchdog commission could not stop Mourdock from hugging Ginni Schneider, a loyal volunteer since before Mourdock’s most recent election to a two-year term as treasurer. “I love this man,” Schneider said with a big grin. “He’s Christian, he’s conservative, and he’s Republican. What more could we ask of him?”

In a scenario ripe for a “Daily Show” comedy skit critical of the Tea Party and PAC loopholes, Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin seemed ready to explode on the main stage because she was not able to point out Mourdock only a few yards away posing for pictures and signing autographs.

Mourdock — pronounced like Rupert’s last name — was unfazed. A widely respected poll released late Friday showed Mourdock enjoying a 10-point lead over Lugar, and Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman, have all provided endorsements.

“I’m so incredibly humbled by this turnout – this intra-party rebellion fueled by all these people who believe in the Tea Party,” Mourdock told me between a high five and kiss on the cheek of a woman standing next to him.

“I’ve run nine marathons in my life and when you make it to those last two miles, you stay steady. If you speed up, you cramp up. If you slow down, you run out of gas.”

What better metaphor could an Indiana politician have, with all those fast cars about to roar into town next weekend for the start of Indy 500 time trials?

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