Dick Lugar-Richard Mourdock Race a Do-or-Die Moment for Tea Party

When Newt Gingrich's campaign finally died last Wednesday, it took with it the hopes of Tea Party and other conservative groups to lift one of their own into the White House.

But it did not end their interest and involvement in the 2012 election cycle. It only shifted it.

[T]he Tea Party faces its own moment of truth this cycle. Its boisterous, headline-grabbing rallies are a thing of the past. Its poll numbers have slipped from a commanding high to even or worse. Those extremely opposed outnumber those extremely supportive of its agenda by big and growing numbers. Moreover, Republican leadership in the House openly defies its wishes, and Democrats have begun to think they can use Tea Party affiliation against their opponents.

[U]nless the Tea Party can deliver this cycle, unless it can push favored candidates to victory and be seen as having played key roles in those victories, its future may be limited indeed.

That's what makes this Tuesday so important. That's the day Indiana voters will go to the polls to choose between six-term U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and his Republican primary opponent, state treasurer Richard Mourdock.

Fortunately for the Tea Party, it has picked a good place to make its stand. Lugar positions himself as a statesman willing to work across party lines at a time when sharp elbows and partisanship carry the day. He has angered conservatives with his votes for Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. He has an F rating from the National Rifle Association, a tepid 75from the American Conservative Union, and a 73—two points below the disappointing Republican average—in the more economically focused Heritage Action for America ratings.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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published this page in In The News 2012-05-08 03:45:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy