Will there be more partisanship in the Senate now that longtime Republican Sen. Richard Lugar is on his way out?
For Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock, who beat out he seven-term senator in the Republican primary Tuesday night, the answer is yes.
“Well, I’m a huge student of American history, and I recognize that this is one of those times where there’s great polarization between the two parties,” Mourdock said. “And, frankly, the ideas for which the parties are working are really at opposite ends of the spectrum. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of successful compromise. Hence, you have the deadlock we have today.”
Mourdock will face Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) in this fall's general election. Democrats say that Donnelly would bring a centrist approach to Washington, while Mourdock would add to the partisan gridlock.
Republicans contend that Donnelly would represent a rubber stamp of President Obama’s policy agenda, parts of which -- including the national health-care overhaul -- are unpopular in Indiana.
Mourdock didn’t shy away from calling himself “bipartisan,” but he gave his own definition of the word.
“I’m bipartisan in the sense I want to confront the big spenders who are both Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “I want to confront those who would protect the bureaucracy rather than the Republicans or Democrats. That’s the kind of confrontation we need to address the real issues that will get this country going again.”
Over his six terms in the Senate, Lugar built a reputation as a bipartisan player, which prompted some conservatives to question his loyalty to their party's positions.
Mourdock chalked up his overwhelming win over the 35-year Senate veteran in part to the fact that “all politics are local,” acknowledging that Lugar’s own mistakes as much as Mourdock’s successful campaign were at play.
“The fact is Mr. Lugar had long distanced himself to Indiana Republicans, moved out of the state in 1977 and, frankly, hadn’t been back very often, especially in the last 10 years,” Mourdock said. “And people in Indiana want to know who is representing them, want to be able to talk to them. And I think that was the biggest liability that Mr. Lugar carried into this race.”
Mourdock then cited two well-known tea party favorites -- Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) -- as his political inspirations.