There are few Republicans who deserve to be retired in a Primary more than Richard Lugar. Indiana’s state Treasurer Dick Mourdock has thrown his hat in the ring and will be challenging Lugar in 2012. What follows is a slightly edited transcript of my conversation with Richard Mourdock.
You’re going to be running against Richard Lugar in the Indiana Primary. So, here is the $10,000 question: Why should Indiana Republicans want to replace Richard Lugar?
Clearly Senator Lugar was a great senator for his time, but it’s a different time. I see a lot of the answers that he’s applying to today’s problems are really more reflective of the 1980s or perhaps the 1990′s. In the 21st Century, I think there is certainly a move for more conservatism and a look towards the future of balanced budgets and standing up for the principles of conservatism that I think he’s somewhat drifted away from.
Okay, Lugar probably has a huge war chest and as a D.C. insider, he’s got a lot of establishment Republicans who will certainly back him. So realistically, in order to beat him, you’re going to need some outside help. So why should Grassroots Conservatives and Tea Partiers around the country rally to help you beat Richard Lugar?
Well, not only should they, they’re already doing so — and we’re tremendously privileged and honored by that. They’re coming forward because they recognize that in a primary, it isn’t about money, it’s about passion. The folks in Washington, D.C. traditionally think it’s just about spending money for name I.D.. Well, guess what? Among Republican primary voters, “Senator” already has 99% name I.D.
That money isn’t going to be the factor that decides the Primary campaign. It is going to be who has the boots on the ground, who has the volunteers. I’m talking volunteers, probably in the thousands who are willing to stand up for the country as the Tea Party did in the last 36 months and be heard. I hear the chant frequently we want to take the country back. Well, a lot of the Tea Party folks in this state and certainly around the country recognize this is one of those races where they get to make a difference and I am absolutely confident they will.
Now inevitably in a race like this, the retort is, “Well, Lugar is much more electable than this crazy-eyed radical challenge. If you elect this Mourdock guy, we’ll lose the seat!” Explain why that’s not the case.
It’s not the case at all because number one, while I have been portrayed — and I know continue to be portrayed — as some extreme fringe of the Republican Party, in fact 75% of the County Chairmen of this state stepped forward to support my candidacy in writing the day I announced. The Republican Party Chairmen of this state are not going to support someone they see as a wild-eyed radical. This is not an attack by the Tea Party on the fortress of the Republicanism. It’s more of an rebellion inside the fort. When the charge of extremism is made, I think often of the old quote from Barry Goldwater, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
It is time that we recognize that our American way of life is at risk, which is to say liberty is at risk if we don’t get the country under control financially. We need to take bold steps, aggressive steps and we’re willing to do that.
Last question: are there “sore loser” laws in Indiana? If you beat Lugar, can he run as an Independent?
Great question. No, he cannot. There is a “sore loser” law in Indiana. Anyone whose name appears on the Primary cannot be on the ballot in the fall even as an Independent or as a write-in. So, the Lisa Murkowski situation can’t happen here. This is all about what’s going to happen on May 8, 2012. There are already rumblings that one of our Democratic Congressmen is looking to run for this seat which tells me, first of all, that he’s polled our Primary voters just as we have. If he thought he was going up against Richard Lugar in a general election, he wouldn’t even be considering it — but the Democrats are seeing that Mr. Lugar is extremely vulnerable, that he’s likely to lose, and so there is going to be some interest on the Democratic side.
I think there is a great chance that a guy by the name of Mitch Daniels is going to have his name on the ballot in November of 2012 as either President or Vice President. That’s going to help the Republican vote here in Indiana tremendously. But even if that doesn’t occur, this is a very red state. We showed that last fall. We did have the anomaly in 2008 when Barack Obama won the state for the first time a Democrat had won it since Lyndon Johnson. That isn’t going to happen this time. People in this state have made up their minds that they’re ready to move in the Republican direction and so we’re going to win the race.
Well, outstanding, I appreciate your time.
Okay, thank you.