The Republican Party, in its mad dash to the far right, is about to consume its few mainstream members in the US Senate.
Maine Senator Olympia Snowe is facing a likely Tea Party opponent, and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch was booed at the recent CPAC convention, despite his solidly conservative voting record over the past 35 years.
Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has lost the support of the Tea Party, which originally was thrilled by his winning of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in 2010, and may also face a primary challenge.
But the repudiation in Indiana of Senator Richard Lugar, the senior Republican and foreign policy expert, by his own party leadership, is a major blow to a Senator who could be called more than a politician, instead a statesman.
Lugar made enemies voting for the START Treaty with Russia, opposing a ban on earmarks, and supporting Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. He has been called Barack Obama’s favorite Republican.
So Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, not a Tea Party leader, is challenging Lugar, although it is believed that Governor Mitch Daniels and Indiana Congressman Mike Pence may stay neutral in the primary race due on May 8, 2012.
Will Lugar get the message and decide to retire after 36 years? It seems unlikely, but his loss would be a major blow to moderate conservatism and the future of the Republican Party image nationally.