Indiana's Richard Lugar became the second Senate Republican yesterday to announce he would vote to confirm Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. He didn't mince words, either, calling Kagan "clearly qualified to serve" and saying she has "demonstrated a comprehensive knowledge of court history and decisions." When is a Republican "yes" vote on a Democratic president's nominee newsworthy? According to the howls of a few Lugar supporters, this is the last straw.
Primary Target! Conservative Indiana bloggers like Michael Jezierski of HoosierAccess.com were quick to register their displeasure with the five-term senator, who is next up for reelection in 2012.
Senator Lugar is no longer the Republican we all once supported, and we deserve better representation in the Senate from a true conservative and not a Marion County RINO. It’s pretty obvious that Senator Lugar only plans to retire horizontally so the only way to retire him is to defeat the senior senator in the 2012 GOP Primary. There’s plenty of conservative talent in Indiana, and one of them is fully capable of a primary challenge to the RINO senator.
Indiana Conservatives Not Happy The Kagan vote already has conservatives in Indiana pressuring Lugar to step down, writes Maureen Groppe of the Indianapolis Star. State Senator Mike Delph called Kagan "out of step with Main Street Indiana." American Family Association of Indiana director Micah Clarke was even more blunt: "Senator Lugar needs to retire and allow new representation in Washington, D.C., just as the junior senator from Indiana is doing."
- But Was This a Surprise? Julie Hirschfeld Davis's AP report is careful to note that Lugar was also "one of seven Republicans who voted to confirm Kagan last year as solicitor general." USA Today's Joan Biskupic adds that Lugar was also "one of the nine GOP senators who broke party ranks last year and voted for President Obama's first Supreme Court appointee, Sonia Sotomayor."
- In This Climate, Maybe Commenting that it's "sad ... that this is news," Patrick Edaburn at The Moderate Voice expresses nostalgia for the "pre Bork days," when confirmations were less partisan. Julie Hirschfeld Davis observes that "Lugar's announcement is the latest in what's expected to be a trickle of support among the Senate's band of GOP moderates for [Kagan]."