Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lugar's Dedicated Service in Senate Ends January 3

Richard G. Lugar
At noon on January 3, Richard Lugar will become a private citizen for the first time in ages.  A year ago, did we really think this day would be coming?

Because of his bitter May primary defeat, the 80-year-old U.S. Senator's term expires at noon on the 3rd day of January, and the term of newly-elected Senator Joe Donnelly will begin as he's sworn in.  It's a significant moment in Indiana history.

Lugar leaves the Senate with his head held high.  He's already begun to see the predictions he made in his scathing concession letter coming true.  The partisanship and bickering of Washington pushed us to the brink of the fiscal cliff.  In one of his final votes, he voted for a compromise bill that averts severe middle class tax increases while raising the taxes on those making above $450,000 a year.

For years, Lugar has been one of those heavy hitters on Capitol Hill.  One of the senior members of the Senate, Lugar has used that seniority to advocate for Indiana and make a name for himself in the area of foreign policy.  This small man in stature was big in Washington, and he kept the humility of a Hoosier tree farmer even as his profile grew.

It's been a remarkable run for the former Presidential candidate, Mayor of Indianapolis, and member of the IPS Board of School Commissioners, and it's taken him literally around the world.  Through it all, Lugar has remained, in my view, humble and focused on representing the state.

Some will criticize him for not coming back home as much as he should have, and, perhaps it is warranted.  Lugar made mistakes and got too comfortable.  It's one of the reasons why he was beaten by Richard Mourdock in the Primary.

That's all in the past now, Lugar moves on in his life to new challenges as a college professor at the University of Indianapolis.  His Richard G. Lugar Academy will continue to develop young leaders for many years to come.  In that way, he will continue in service to the state he loves.

It's a bittersweet day for Hoosiers.  One thing is for sure.  We will remember Senator Lugar fondly, and I think time will probably treat him well.  He's certainly one of the most significant political figures in the history of our state and someone that generations of Hoosiers have lauded, loved, and supported.

Congratulations and thank you, Senator Lugar.  I applaud your service to Indiana in the Senate and wish you the best as you move forward in a different type of service.

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