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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Bullseye on Lugar

Just weeks after the midterm elections, conservative activists are already focused on future purges of the Republican ranks to get rid of discordant elements. And as a profile by Jennifer Steinhauer of The New York Times explains, a big bullseye is being painted on the back of veteran Sen. Dick Lugar.

Mr. Lugar’s recent breaks with his party have stirred the attention of Indiana Tea Party groups, who have him in their sights. “Senator Lugar has been an upstanding citizen representing us in D. C.,” said Diane Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Tea Party. “But over the years, he has become more moderate in his voting.”
Removing him “will be a difficult challenge,” Ms. Hubbard conceded. “But we do believe it’s doable, and we think the climate is right for it and we believe it is a must.”

It’s a “must,” it appears, mainly because of Lugar’s prominent position on foreign policy matters, and his obdurate belief that some “liberal” initiatives like nuclear nonproliferation treaties should be supported by conservatives. Here’s Lugar blunt message to Republican senators on the START treaty:

Please do your duty for your country. We do not have verification of the Russian nuclear posture right now. We’re not going to have it until we sign the START treaty. We’re not going to be able to get rid of further missiles and warheads aimed at us. I state it candidly to my colleagues, one of those warheads…could demolish my city of Indianapolis — obliterate it! Now Americans may have forgotten that. I’ve not forgotten it and I think that most people who are concentrating on the START treaty want to move ahead to move down the ladder of the number of weapons aimed at us.

It’s probably the idea that patriotism sometimes involves supporting Democratic initiaties that makes Lugar particulary offensive to some conservatives. It will be interesting to see if they can tame him or just decide to take him out.

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