State treasurer Richard Mourdock, a 60-year-old Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, says the stakes in the Indiana primary couldn’t be higher. “This race is for the heart and soul of the Republican party in the United States Senate,” Mourdock tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
The May 8 election could also turn out to be the final fight of 80-year-old incumbent Dick Lugar’s long career. A six-term senator and former Indianapolis mayor, Lugar is an institution, but conservative forces within the Republican party have long grumbled that he is too moderate and too ensconced in the Washington bubble, where he’s been since entering the Senate nearly 36 years ago. Now, Lugar is in danger of losing the GOP nomination to Mourdock, who is giving Lugar the toughest electoral battle he’s ever faced.
Internal campaign polls have shown Mourdock leading Lugar, despite the senator having better name recognition and a full campaign war chest. Mourdock says it was a televised debate on April 11 between himself and Lugar that made the race truly competitive.
“My mission going in was to look confident, capable, and conservative,” Mourdock said. “And that’s what I did.” Fundraising went up following the debate, as did Mourdock’s standing in his own internal polls. National media outlets, he says, got interested pretty quickly.