Richard Mourdock, the incumbent state treasurer who won re-election with 60% of the vote in 2010, picked up another major endorsement in his primary challenge to Richard Lugar in the 2012 U.S. Senate primary. This time, he was endorsed by the National Rifle Association.
This is a huge endorsement, because of the NRA’s history of compromising principles for access. The NRA has endorsed a number of Democrats, despite the fact that their Republican opponents have better records on Second Amendment rights. They endorse incumbents to preserve access, so the fact that the NRA is endorsing a challenger to an incumbent who has been in the U.S. Senate for over three decades is a very big deal.
Lugar’s record on the Second Amendment is indefensible. As the Mourdock campaign points out:
- Lugar voted against reciprocity to carry concealed weapons across state lines (2009)
- Lugar voted for background checks on all firearms transactions (2004)
- Lugar voted in favor of extending the Assault Weapons Ban for 10 years (2004)
- Lugar voted for the Brady Handgun bill (1993)
- Lugar voted for the Assault Weapons Ban (1993)
Lugar’s record is so bad that even the NRA could not overlook it.
We should not forget Lugar’s votes for Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. While a legitimate case can be made that the Senate should respect the President’s choices for his Cabinet, lifetime judicial appointments are another matter entirely. When Barack Obama is defeated this November, his Cabinet will leave with him. Kagan and Sotomayor will stay for decades. There is a reason the U.S. Constitution gives the Senate the authority to approve or reject Supreme Court nominees!
Lugar is clearly worried about Mourdock. The Lugar campaign has launched one negative attack on Mourdock after another, and Lugar’s e-mail list has been devoted to attacking Mourdock repeatedly for months. Generally, incumbents do not go this negative this early unless they need to go negative. Lugar knows he is out of the mainstream with Republican primary voters, and that his decades-long service may well be over next January.