Here's why Nixon's favorite mayor may be the most vulnerable GOP senator in 2012 

Indiana's Sen. Richard Lugar is almost certainly the most vulnerable Republican incumbent facing re-election in 2012, and not merely because he's been in the Senate since 1977 and ranks third on the Senate's seniority list, trailing only Democrats Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

Lugar very likely faces a primary challenge that could well make him the Robert Bennett of 2012. Bennett was a veteran Utah Republican who was challenged and beaten by Sen. Mike Lee, then a virtual unknown who went on to win the general election.

But Lugar's likely primary opponent is anything but an unknown, as Examiner contributor Kenneth Tomlinson explains in a must-read piece in The Weekly Standard:

"Back in Indiana ... state treasurer Richard Mourdock was calling GOP county chairmen asking them to commit to his candidacy if he challenges Lugar in next May’s Indiana primary," Tomlinson writes.

"Mourdock, a geologist by training, is a successful businessman who loves issue-oriented politics and enjoys challenges. A decade ago, at 49, he started running marathons, eventually realizing his goal to run Boston," Tomlinson continues.

"The treasurer’s office is not normally considered a path to the U.S. Senate, but last November Mourdock won reelection with 62 percent of the vote—the first treasurer in memory to lead the Republican ticket in Indiana. His performance easily bested that of Dan Coats, who won Indiana’s other Senate seat with 55 percent."

So what kind of response did Mourdock receive?

"As Mourdock began his calls to local Republican leaders, he figured that if 30 percent of county chairmen were willing to support him, he would be encouraged. He reached that total early the second day," Tomlinson informs us.

Clearly, Lugar is quite vulnerable. Nevada's Sen. John Ensign has a world of troubles as well, but his stem from a sex scandal, while Lugar's appear to be the classic case of a once-popular incumbent growing out of touch with the folks back home.

Expect Mourdock to announce his candidacy officially this week. Go here for the rest of the low-down on what could be a key Senate race in 2012 from Tomlinson.

 

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Mark Tapscott

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