TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock told the Associated Press tonight that questions about Sen. Richard Lugar’s residency and voters’ perception that he was out of touch with Hoosier values led to Lugar’s loss in today’s Indiana primary.
The Associated Press news service declared Republican challenger Richard Mourdock winner in a fierce battle with U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar for that party’s nomination.
The victory for Mourdock, heavily backed by tea party supporters, unseats Lugar, a six-term incumbent whose credentials were questioned as not being conservative enough.
With 4,814 (or 90 percent) of Indiana’s 5,330 precincts reporting, Mourdock had 372,737 votes to Lugar’s 241,592 — a 61 percent to 39 percent margin.
In Vigo County, with all of its 87 precincts reporting, Mourdock won 3,801 votes to Lugar’s 2,790.
Mourdock will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly in November. Donnelly was unopposed in the primary.
Mourdock told The Associated Press he felt the lone debate between the two established him as a credible candidate with many voters and helped him oust the six-term incumbent.
Mourdock says he feels bad for Lugar because he knows what it’s like to lose an election. Mourdock had run unsuccessfully for Congress before winning election as state treasurer in 2006.
Of out-of-state groups that heavily funded attacks against Lugar, the Senator said Tuesday that he believed the people behind that cash really “couldn’t care less for either of the candidates, Mourdock and myself — they’re eager to show their clout, their ability to terminate careers or change the landscape.”
“Indiana was the only playground available to demonstrate this,” he said. “That’s my misfortune to be in sort of a unique situation.”
In Washington, President Barack Obama praised Lugar’s service in the Senate.
Obama said in a statement that he and Lugar didn’t agree on everything, but he praised Lugar for his willingness to — in Obama’s words — reach across the aisle and get things done.
The president highlighted Lugar’s efforts to work with the White House on nonproliferation issues and his bipartisanship on national security.
Obama said Lugar has “served his constituents and his country well.”