“There’s a degree of interest that I’ve not seen before, and I think it’s probably impelled by their sense that this is a real struggle and they want to make certain that I know they’re on my side,” Lugar said.
Time for a Change
There’s no question Mourdock is out-hustling Lugar on the campaign trail.
Mourdock marched in his second of three parades on July Fourth in Lebanon, a city northwest of Indianapolis. As he crisscrossed the suburban streets, half a dozen people expressed their desire to see Lugar defeated. He worked the crowd, tossing out his campaign gimmick — pencils — to hundreds of parade-watchers.
“It’s surprising, it really is. You’ll hear it before we get done here. Someone will say something pro-Mourdock or just saying, ‘It’s time for a change,’” Mourdock said. “Have a pencil, ma’am.”
Lugar rarely marches in parades, staffers say. On the July Fourth holiday, his office publicized two events: a concert and an ice cream social at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in Indianapolis, the home of the country’s only Hoosier president, where about 100 people gathered.
“Mourdock has a lot of brawn, but no brain,” said one Mourdock supporter, who declined to speak on the record. “And you’ve got Lugar, and this is not his first time on this rodeo, and he’s smart enough to know it’s not all about hard work.”
There’s a groundswell of hatred among hard-core Republicans for Lugar. What remains to be seen, however, is if Mourdock is well-equipped enough to take him out.
Mourdock’s fundraising is anemic. He raised only $300,000 during the past three months — one-third of what Lugar brought in during the same time period.
But Mourdock won’t need much money to convince grass-roots conservatives such as Tom and Judy Schlegelmilch of Idaville, who are supporting his campaign.
“The big reason is we would like to see Lugar out of there,” Tom Schlegelmilch said. “He went off the rails in our opinion, supporting things that’s definitely not our way of thinking. It’s time to support somebody new.”
The Schlegelmilches drove a tractor in the parade as part of Mourdock’s volunteer caravan. Judy Schlegelmilch mentioned the ratification of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty as just one of the policy areas that have fed her desire to see Lugar go.
“He’s just gone too liberal,” she said. “It’s more than just the last year.”
DREAM and Debt Limit Test
It’s hard to find a Hoosier who doesn’t respect Lugar’s political tenure, from his time as the “Boy Scout Mayor” of Indianapolis to his negotiation of nuclear arms treaties for the entire country.
These days, it’s more difficult to find a Republican who will endorse him. Every Republican in the state’s Congressional delegation, including Sen. Dan Coats, opted to stay neutral in Lugar’s primary. Gov. Mitch Daniels, the Senator’s former top aide, is the only prominent elected Indiana Republican to publicly lend his support.
Lugar chalked up his colleagues’ caution to their own re-election races, even though their silence lends credence to his tough road ahead.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.