It has been interesting to watch the evolution of the media coverage of the race between six-term incumbent Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and his Republican primary challenger, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock.
Initially, the media branded Mourdock as a “Tea Party” candidate; an upstart who dared to challenge the venerated Senator Lugar. The Indianapolis Star critically described Mr. Mourdock as exhibiting an “embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset.”
But as the campaign developed and it looked like Mourdock might actually win, they began downplaying his Tea Party association, and attributed his increasing popularity to his many personal appearances in canvassing the state. Even the Wall Street Journal reported, “Mr. Lugar’s Republican colleagues, who appeared jarred Tuesday by his loss, attributed it less to the tea party’s power than to more traditional factors.” Said Mr. Mourdock, “The Republican base was very disillusioned, very disconnected from a long, long, long-time incumbent who lost touch with his constituents.”
Mourdock’s victory was outstanding, with over 60% of the total vote! Appearing on this morning’s Fox and Friends, Mr. Mourdock refuted the media analysis, and firmly attributed his victory to the “thousands of Tea Party supporters throughout the state,” and confirmed his position that it’s about time that the meaning of the term “bi-partisanship” should include having the Democrats seek to accommodate conservative views every once in a while.
Mr. Mourdock now continues a trend that has seen a list of veteran senators depart from office, either by defeat or other natural causes, including; Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK), Russ Feingold (D- WI), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Edward Kennedy (D- MA.) and Robert Byrd (D- WV). Their departures are said to reflect a generational shift toward a younger and more conservative Senate membership.
Mourdock’s overwhelming victory should give further evidence that the Birch and Evan Bayh Democrat dynasty that controlled Indiana politics from 1963 to 2011 has ended, and confirmation that the media reports of the death of the Tea Party are a bit premature.