While you never know until the votes are counted, it certainly looks as though Republican primary voters will deny Sen. Richard Lugar a seventh term. (Assuming Indiana laws don’t permit a Joe Lieberman/Lisa Murkowski-style comeback, a possibility I’ve yet to research.) The Washington Post ‘s Chris Cillizza looks at whether Lugar’s defeat was inevitable. Cillizza reveals that Republican strategists huddled with Lugar at the beginning of last year to warn him to avoid mistakes made by Robert Bennett in Utah and Murkowski in Alaska. He apparently didn’t listen. Instead, the senator seemed to believe — wrongly — that his situation was unique, that his connection to voters in the Hoosier State went deeper and was, therefore, tougher to break than those of his losing colleagues. It’s somewhat understandable why he might feel that way. Lugar hadn’t won reelection with less than 67 percent of the vote since 1982. And, prior to winning his Senate seat in 1976, he served as mayor of Indianapolis for seven years. And his opponent, Mourdock, had lost five previous races — including three bids for Congress, and struggled to raise any considerable amount of money for his campaign. (At the beginning of 2012, Lugar had over $4 million in the bank, while Mourdock had just $362,000.) It’s also worth noting that by the time this meeting with GOP strategists happened, Lugar had already voted for TARP, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. He’d already been a leader on the New Start Treaty. So the record for a conservative challenger to go after was already there. Judging from the ideologically based counterattacks launched against Mourdock — criticizing him for supporting the same budget Lugar voted for, the flag-burning amendment, and stuff from 1990 — the cupboard must have been pretty bare. Lugar had to run on his superior Washington experience, which is precisely what many primary voters don’t like about him at this point in his long career. UPDATE: I should note that the Cillizza piece is co-bylined with Aaron Blake.
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If Lugar Loses
Sen. Orrin Hatch came up just short in his bid to win renomination outright at the Utah Republican state convention. Instead he will face conservative state Sen. Dan Liljenquist in a June primary. Hatch got a sliver more than 59 percent of the vote; he needed 60 percent. Hatch backers are spinning it as a victory of sorts, which it to some extent is. The six-term senator will be heavily favored in the primary, which features a wider electorate than the conservative activists at the convention, and he did not much better than the 26 percent Sen. Robert Bennett got at the convention in 2010, which wasn’t enough to even appear on the primary ballot. But it keeps the Tea Party challenge to Hatch alive and some groups like FreedomWorks will reportedly remain involved in the race.
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Orrin Hatch Forced Into Primary
Sweet … ( KSRO ) — Senate Republicans have blocked a bill to grant hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children a chance to gain legal status if they enroll in college or join the military. Sponsors of what they call the Dream Act needed 60 Senate votes for it, but fell five short. The House passed the bill last week. It was a last-ditch effort to enact it before it Republicans take control of the House from Democrats in January. Immigrant advocates viewed the measure as a step toward providing a path to legal status for up to 12 million illegal immigrants by focusing on the most sympathetic among them first. Critics called it a back-door grant of amnesty that would encourage more illegal immigration. Update: Swing voters … Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Jon Tester of Montana, Max Baucus of Montana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska voted against bringing the bill to the floor; Republican Sens. Richard Lugar, Lisa Murkowski, and Robert Bennett voted for it.
DREAM Act Blocked.
They just don’t get it here in Washington, DC. The Senate voted today for business as usual — against an amendment by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to ban earmarking by Senators. The vote was conducted under a suspension of the Senate’s rules, yet it garnered only 39 votes in favor of an earmark ban for the whole Senate. They love pork on Capitol Hill. The Senate has already conducted three votes today on the food safety bill and the bill ended up passing by a vote of 73-25. Now that the Senate has dispensed with the food safety bill, the Senate needs to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government into mid to late December. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has a few issues that he may attempt to bring up as motions to reconsider cloture votes to fill time until the Senate receives a CR from the House. The House has 22 suspension votes scheduled for today and work on the controversial Claims Resolution Act of 2010, HR 4783 . Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has a piece today at Big Government arguing that the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 needs more study before it is sent to the President for his signature. I urge my colleagues to consider what the Claims Settlement Act truly presents before voting on the bill this week. This legislation includes over a billion dollars to settle the Pigford II discrimination claims with black farmers. Unfortunately, Pigford is rife with fraudulent claims and to settle before an investigation can take place does the American taxpayer a disservice. Justice should be served to those who experienced discrimination, but settlement funds should only go to those wronged. The Senate beat down an effort to ban earmarking for the whole Senate. This follows the Senate and House Republican conferences voting to swear off earmarking for 2011 and 2012 earlier this month. The 39-56 vote to defeat the Coburn-McCaskill Amendment on the food safety bill under a suspension of the rules shows the current state of play on earmark reform in the Senate. Five Senators missed the vote including Bond (R-MO), Boxer (D-CA), Brownback (R-KS), Mikulski (D-MD) and Shaheen (D-NH). Republicans voting against an earmark ban for the full Senate and voting against Senator Coburn were the following: Robert Bennett (R-UT); Thad Cochran (R-MS); Susan Collins (R-ME); Jim Inhofe (R-OK); Richard Lugar (R-IN); Lisa Murkowski (R-AK); Richard Shelby (R-AL); and, George Voinovich (R-OH). Democrats voting for the Senate-wide ban on earmarking were the following: Evan Bayh (D-IN); Michael Bennet (D-CO); Russ Feingold (D-WI); Claire McCaskill (D-MO); Bill Nelson (D-FL); Mark Udall (D-CO); and, Mark Warner (D-VA). This vote shows that the Senate as a whole is not yet close to banning earmarks. Expect this fight to continue into next year.
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Today in Washington – November 30, 2010
Lisa Murkowski is conceding the senate primary in Alaska to RedState and Sarah Palin endorsed Joe Miller. This news is bigger than Lisa Murkowski. While Establishment Republicans will bristle at it, this is a near total kneecapping of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, not to mention another rejection of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Consider this inside baseball fact: McConnell has chosen as his loyal lieutenants at the leadership table Robert Bennett (R-UT), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). Judd Gregg is retiring and McConnell sought to replace him with Trey Grayson of Kentucky. Grayson, however, lost to Rand Paul in the Kentucky GOP Primary. Conservatives threw Bob Bennett out at the Utah GOP convention, replacing him with firebrand conservative Mike Lee. Now Lisa Murkowski is defeated, like Bob Bennett, by conservative activists concerned by the fiscal drift of the Republican Party and the overall direction of the American republic. Consider another fact: Conservatives, led by Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin, are potentially creating the most conservative Senate Republican Conference in the last thirty or so years: Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, Mike Lee, Joe Miller, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Pat Toomey will be joining Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, and David Vitter.
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Knee Capping Mitch McConnell: Lisa Murkowski Concedes to Joe Miller