That’s the suggestion of John C. Danforth, a respected Republican former Senator from Missouri and Ambassador to the U.N. during the Bush administration.
Richard Lugar is a five-term Senator with a long history of standing on principle, going all the way back to they days when, despite being a staunch lifelong admirer of Ronald Reagan, he opposed Reagan by supporting sanctions against South Africa’s apartheid government, a policy that Reagan vetoed.
Now, in one of the most treacherous partisan atmospheres ever experienced in the US congress, Lugar is doggedly standing against his party on a number of key issues including the START treaty (which Republicans oppose simply because its ratification will give President Obama a foreign policy victory), the DREAM act allowing the children of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, and the earmark reform bill which he considers empty political posturing.
This independent thinking has not gone unnoticed by the Tea Party, ever on the hunt for RINOs who, they believe, must be relentlessly sought out and destroyed without mercy no matter who they are or how respected their record might be. “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.”
Senator Lugar recognizes the danger, and the new extremism of a Republican party that can put even a statesman like himself suddenly at risk. “I’m very conscious of it,” Mr. Lugar said of a primary threat. “I’ve been in public life a long time.”
Others are not so sanguine. From the NY Times: “Even after the midterm rout that will remove many long-serving members from Congress, the idea that Mr. Lugar would be vulnerable to a primary challenge is a chilling notion to many Republicans, a symbol of symbolism gone too far.”
Or, as John C. Danforth puts it, “If Dick Lugar, having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”
- Former Senator John Danforth Says GOP May Be “Beyond Redemption” (alan.com)
- Sen. Lugar and the Tea Party (littlegreenfootballs.com)
- Tea Party Has Sen. Dick Lugar In Their Sights (crooksandliars.com)
- Danforth fears GOP may reach point ‘beyond redemption’ (washingtonmonthly.com)