Indiana: Lugar’s Pro-Life Weakness Opens Door to Mourdock

Politics   |   Andrew Bair   |   Feb 24, 2011   |   12:37PM   |   Indianapolis, IN

Senator Richard Lugar, the senior Republican Senator from Indiana, faces a tough reelection in 2012.

Currently in his sixth term, Lugar is the most senior Republican member of the U.S. Senate. Throughout his career, Senator Lugar has generally held a pro-life position, supporting key pro-life legislative efforts like the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, reinstating the Mexico City Policy and most recently, the repeal of the pro-abortion Obama healthcare law.

While Senator Lugar may support protecting unborn children from abortion, he does not support protecting them from embryonic stem cell research. Lugar voted for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, which attempted to overturn President George W. Bush’s ban on stem cell research that requires the destruction of human embryos.
Lugar also gives pause to many in the pro-life community for his support of President Obama’s pro-abortion Supreme Court nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Even before Sotomayor’s nomination made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lugar announced he would vote to confirm her to the Supreme Court. A year later, Senator Lugar was quick to throw his support behind Elena Kagan. Lugar was the first Republican not on the Judiciary Committee to announce his support for Kagan’s nomination.
The composition of the Supreme Court is of critical importance to the pro-life movement, which holds the overturning of the Roe vs. Wade decision as its highest goal. It is unfortunate that Lugar, the most senior Republican member of the Senate, was more than eager to support Obama’s nominees, who are two of the most radically pro-abortion to ever serve on the Court.

If Republicans reclaim control of the Senate in 2012, Lugar would be on track to become the President pro tempore of the Senate. Can the pro-life movement really afford to have Senator Lugar in this leadership role presiding over Supreme Court nominations in the next term?
Just six years ago, Lugar was virtually invincible. His electoral strength in the Hoosier State was so insurmountable that the Democrats did not even run a candidate against him. Lugar was reelected with 87% of the vote, beating out a Libertarian candidate who garnered only 12.6% of the vote.
But in 2012, Lugar is in an entirely different political state. Angering many conservative segments of the Republican Party in the last few years, Lugar will face his major primary challenge.

Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who is pro-life, has announced his candidacy. Mourdock has criticized Senator Lugar for voting to confirm Obama’s pro-abortion Supreme Court justices. Mourdock’s first campaign ad hits Lugar for association with President Obama, citing an MSNBC headline calling Lugar “Obama’s Favorite Republican.”

Lugar’s seniority has not stopped top Indiana Republicans from jumping on board with his primary opponent. The state executive committee and 74% of local party chairs have endorsed Mourdock. Governor Mitch Daniels (R) and Representative Mike Pence (R) are remaining neutral at this point in the race. Newly elected Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) unequivocally stated he would not be making any primary endorsement, leaving the decision up to the voters of Indiana.

No matter who the GOP nominee is for the general election, the Indiana Senate race leans Republican. Despite President Obama carrying the state in 2008, Indiana traditionally trends Republican and in 2010, Republican Senator Dan Coats was elected with 55% of the vote.