Sen. Richard Lugar did not merely lose his primary contest last night. He got thumped. Richard Mourdock took 60.6% of the vote in the Hoosier state to Lugar’s 39.4%. In all of his previous contests, Lugar has taken more than two-thirds of the vote. Six years ago, the Democrats did not even field a candidate against him. This is not your grandfather’s Republican Party.
Lugar joins former Senator Robert Bennett from Utah and former Congressman (and odds-on favorite to become a Senator) Mike Castle of Delaware in the list of those mainstream Republican candidates who were retired by their own party which has swung hard to the right. Some have given up trying, like Maine’s Senator Olympia Snowe, recognizing that even if you manage to win, your Republican caucus in the Senate is going to be sufficiently filled with fire-breathers, enabled by those whose Machiavellian instinct to worry most about obstructing one’s political opponents no matter what the cost, that what was once a rewarding job, reaching consensus in ways that benefit the nation, is no longer worth the effort.