Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How Richard Got His Groove Back

Reports of Richard Lugar's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

In May 2012, he may face his toughest race in years, but you still get the feeling that he's the favorite to win that primary fight. He's proving once again that he's a pretty shrewd customer when it comes to politics.

I know that I've been critical of him before, but, in the last few weeks, you can really see him getting his campaign legs under him. It's no wonder because he's always been a runner. I don't know if he can do it anymore, but, metaphorically, it's clear he knows he's going to have to leg this one out.

The latest from Lugar, on the heels of his strong fundraising numbers last week, is that he's injecting the fair tax plan back into the argument. It's legislation he's put his name on before, and he's doing it again. While not popular with this blogger, the fair tax plan is wildly popular on the right and in Tea Party circles. It's something that Lugar's been championing for a while. In fact, back in 1996, he advocated doing away with income taxes and the IRS altogether and replace it with a national sales tax. Sound familiar?

I still have trouble figuring out what the problem is with Dick Lugar. Residency issues aside, he's been a picture of Indiana politics for many years. He was a champion of the IndyGov plan to consolidate city and county government when he was Mayor of Indianapolis. He has walked the thin line of a center right moderate, where Indiana politics has been for years. He's good with constituents. His office responds with substantive and meaningful communication. In short, he's been an above average Senator.

That said, I don't agree with everything he's done. I think walking away from the Dream Act was a mistake and completely against everything he has stood for all these years. That wasn't a Dick Lugar move. Now, though, it seems that he's getting himself back into gear.

With the amount of money he's going to have, it's hard to see how Richard Mourdock can make a dent.

There will be a lot of other factors that play into that 2012 race, though. Democrats may or may not have much to vote for, so they could slide over and play operation chaos in the Republican Primary. Also, who knows if the Republican Presidential nomination will be sewn up by anyone. If someone like Ron Paul is still a viable candidate, that could move the needle towards Mourdock and away from Lugar who is much more establishment-based. The Governor's race is also far from settled. Both Republicans will likely have millions to throw at each other in a true battle of social moderate (Jim Wallace) vs. social conservative (Mike Pence).

Mourdock started off his campaign with a lot of momentum, but, as things are settling down, this observer is starting to see Lugar surging back in front, slowly. It's an interesting time to be an Indiana political watcher.

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