As Townhall's resident RINO, I generally try to tamp down the RINO-huntin' impulses of some fellow conservatives. Scott Brown is about as good as we're going to get in a place like Massachusetts. Ditto Chris Christie in New Jersey. In other words, I'm all about picking battles carefully and embracing the large tent to forge governing majorities. Republicans need to net four seats to win back the Senate in 2012, so the notion of dislodging a long-serving, "safe" Republican incumbent typically gives me heartburn. But in Indiana, Sen. Dick Lugar's time has passed, and Hoosier state conservatives can do better. For a red state Senator, Lugar is unusually squishy on judicial appointments and was a key player in the bipartisan, American interest-harming Treaty to Nowhere known as New START. His opponent in the Republican primary is a statewide office holder and stands several steps to the right of the incumbent. Given Lugar's redoubtable war chest, many observers wrote off Richard Mourdock's upset bid when he announced his intention challenge Lugar. They shouldn't have. With four days left before the primary, Mourdock has leapt ahead of Lugar by double digits:
A new poll shows Treasurer Richard Mourdock building a commanding lead over Sen. Richard Lugar.The Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll, conducted by two prominent Republican and Democratic pollsters, shows Mourdock with a 48 percent to 38 percent lead over Lugar. Voters will decide the fate of Lugar, a six-term incumbent, in Tuesday’s primary election.
Lugar has been in the Senate for 36 years, almost a decade longer than I've been on this planet. Indiana voters seem to be worried that he's developed an incurable case of Beltwayitis over the course of his decades in town, and could send him on his way next week. I interviewed Mourdock at CPAC this year and found him to be capable and credible. As I alluded to above, he's the State Treasurer -- so he's been elected statewide, winning with 63 percent of the vote. Plus, he's associated with the incredibly successful Daniels administration (even though Daniels publicly backed the incumbent, a close personal friend). I've included our conversation from February below. Is this the next US Senator from Indiana?