Indiana GOP primaries have favored conservatives in recent years, and Rep. Marlin Stutzman is very conservative. But he has to assuage Republican fears about what happened in the last Senate race.
By Andrea Drusch
Indiana Republicans have more reasons than most to fear messy intraparty primaries. They had a front-row seat to one with infamous consequences just three years ago.
In 2012, tea-party groups lined up behind state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in a primary against the state’s longtime, more moderate incumbent, Sen. Richard Lugar. The rest of the story is painfully familiar to Republicans around the country: Mourdock defeated Lugar in a Republican primary landslide, only to fumble away the general election after controversial comments about rape. The seat that Lugar held for more than three decades (and had been expected to hold easily again that year) instead went to Joe Donnelly, then a Democratic congressman.
So to some party leaders, watching some of the same groups that backed Mourdock in 2012 line up behind Rep. Marlin Stutzman, a conservative House member who’s been known to ruffle a few feathers in Washington, feels like a dangerous turn of events. But, with recent Indiana history in mind, some of Stutzman’s early moves in the race to replace retiring Sen. Dan Coats soften the “tea-party establishment” dividing line that has caused so many state Republicans worry in recent years…