Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 17, 2014

Indiana: Dick Lugar’s Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Updated 6:55 p.m. | Sen. Dick Lugar’s (R-Ind.) re-election campaign has seen better days, even this cycle.

The six-term Senator faces a tough primary against state Treasurer Richard Mourdock on May 8, but this must be Lugar’s worst week yet for his prospects. A request for response from Lugar’s team was not immediately returned this afternoon.

In the meantime, here’s the countdown of Lugar’s lackluster week:

1. This morning, former Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) chimed in with his support for Lugar on C-SPAN. Conservatives loathe Specter — a former Republican who lost re-election as a Democrat in 2010 — and Lugar’s backers probably wish he kept these four words to himself:

2. Lugar will have to cough up $4,500 to pay back the government for his Indianapolis hotel stays during visits to the Hoosier State, according to a Politico report out this morning. Forget the actual sum: The news underscores Lugar’s residency problems again. He doesn’t own a home in Indiana, and his office made taxpayers foot the bill for his overnight trips —  accidentally, Lugar says.

3. A new Democratic poll released Monday showed Lugar with a slim, 6-point lead over Mourdock. Sure, it’s an internal poll from the campaign of likely Democratic Senate nominee Rep. Joe Donnelly. But the poll also shows Lugar’s lead has been cut in half over the past several months.

4. Lugar filed to appeal a local elections board decision that ruled him ineligible to vote. Legal experts say he’ll probably win his appeal, but talk about damaging headlines:

“Lugar Appeals Ruling That He Is Not Indiana Resident”

“Lugars appeal Election Board’s residency ruling”

5.  Points to the Lugar campaign for its aggressive message in its new statewide television spot. It’s a strong and effective advertisement that plays to Lugar’s strength — his likability — by calling out his opponent for attacking him.

But it’s never a good sign when an incumbent has to defend his residency in the first line of his own advertisement.

6. Also today, the Indiana Right to Life PAC backed Mourdock. The anti-abortion group has never been a big fan of Lugar, and the PAC’s president, Mike Fichter, said the group hasn’t backed the Senator since 2000. But Fichter’s concerns are common among Indiana conservatives:

“The overarching concern is that we feel we cannot give Richard Lugar the opportunity to put one more activist judge on the Supreme Court like Elena Kagan or Sonia Sotomayor,” Fichter told Roll Call.

7. Finally, there’s this doozy of a cartoon from the Indianapolis Star — the state’s largest newspaper.  Ouch.

Indiana: Dick Lugars Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Updated 6:55 p.m.

Lugar’s campaign sees the recent string of news in a different light. Spokesman Andy Fisher responded by saying voters are sick of outside groups interfering with Indiana politics.

“Lugar’s opponents are running a destructive political attack campaign,” Fisher said. “I think there’s a recoiling here that’s occurring in term of the electorate and these outside groups coming at Senator Lugar, who remains respected and influential throughout the state.”

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