In person, Senator Dick Lugar (R., Ind.) is a model of probity. “His personal style is very moderate and very pleasant,” says Jeff Bergner, a former staffer. “He tries whenever he can to get someone to come around to his side by persuasion rather than by yelling.”
In a primary, however, he’s no-holds-barred — even juvenile.
State treasurer Richard Mourdock has trained his fire on Lugar’s voting record: his support for President Obama’s Supreme Court appointees, his sponsorship of the DREAM Act, and his backing of the ethanol mandate, to name a few examples.
Lugar’s campaign is meeting fire with fire. But Mourdock lacks a voting record, so Lugar has focused on character, maligning Mourdock’s by insinuating he’s untrustworthy.
The latest onslaught is against Mourdock’s campaign manager, Jim Holden. On March 14, Holden emailed Mourdock’s campaign staff to notify them that he had acquired log-in information for Salesforce, a voter database the state GOP uses. “Can one of you guys log in immediately and start pillaging email addresses like a Viking raider attacking a [monastery] full of unarmed monks?” Holden wrote.
An impolitic e-mail, yes, but not dastardly. Holden did copy on the e-mail an outside vendor working as a consultant for the campaign; as a result, the state GOP, concerned about maintaining security, blocked the Mourdock campaign’s access to the voter database. (The party has a rule against using the list for commercial purposes.) The Lugar campaign, however, has blown this story out of proportion. In a press release, it claimed the Mourdock campaign was “under investigation” and the subject of an “Indiana Republican-party probe.” Former state-party chairman Jim Kittle, a Lugar supporter, called the controversy a “security breach.”
But Jamey Noel, a member of the Indiana Republican state committee, says there was no probe that he knows of: “I was kind of surprised when I heard that, unless it was something that came up privately in a subcommittee meeting. It was never mentioned in the open meeting.” Crucially, the matter was referred to the party’s technology committee, not the disciplinary rules committee. The party wasn’t punishing Mourdock for a security breach; it was simply trying to ensure the voter database didn’t fall into the wrong hands.
But the Lugar campaign has made this line of attack on multiple fronts. After the free-market advocate the Club for Growth began airing aids on behalf of Mourdock, Lugar sent a letter to the Mourdock campaign asking that it push the Club for Growth to disclose its donors’ names. “I am sure you would agree with me that Hoosiers deserve to and should know from whom The Club for Growth’s money is being contributed so that we all can be assured and confident the anti-circumvention provisions, which bar attempts to launder such banned direct contributions through another entity indirectly, are followed,” Lugar wrote.