Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who trounced Democratic opponent Pete Buttigieg just a week ago, is now being talked about as a formidable opponent in May 2012.
His possible opponent that year? None other than the vaunted U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar.
Brian Howey of Howey Politics Indiana, whose column appears in The Times and at nwi.com on Sundays, cited "multiple informed and reliable Republican sources" in reporting this afternoon that Mourdock has set his sights on Lugar.
Here's a snippet from Howey's post:
"I've had a lot of Republicans telling me that I ought to look at a lot of things," Mourdock told HPI Tuesday afternoon. "It's very flattering." Mourdock said that he if told his wife he was kicking off another campaign, "the papers would be served by tomorrow." Mourdock said he wanted to take some time, clear his desk off and then see "what doors open."
Mourdock was a strong vote-getter this time, but will he be able to knock down someone of Lugar's stature?
Lugar is known for his statesmanship and political savvy. As mayor of Indianapolis, he brought Unigov to fruition. As a senior senator, he has become an expert on agriculture, energy and national security. He is poised to become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Mourdock's claims to fame are two:
• He turned over management of the state's troubled 529 college savings plan to uPromise, which is a pretty remarkable achievement. He deserves points for that.
• He singlehandedly fought the prepackaged Chrysler bankruptcy deal, in which Chrysler merged with Fiat to preserve Hoosier jobs, in court in 2009. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually rejected his lawsuit. Mourdock's argument was that the bankruptcy deal was unfair to the Indiana pension funds invested in Chrysler bonds. It was a painful way to learn about the risks associated with some investments.
Mourdock's critics said that had he succeeded, Chrysler could have shut down, knocking tens of thousands of Hoosiers out of work. Yet Mourdock still got impressive vote totals this year.
Was he buoyed by the Republican tsunami this year or did he help lead it?
And how would that help him against Lugar in 2012?
Mourdock isn't the only one who reportedly is weighing a run against Lugar in the GOP primary about 18 months from now.
State Sen. Mike Delph, who has been pushing hard for Indiana to crack down on illegal immigration, is another possibility, as is Don Bates Jr. Bates ran against Dan Coats in the 2010 Republican primary.
Here's more from Howey's post:
"People in the party have become a lot more conservative than Sen. Lugar," said Bates. "They don't want compromise with the president."
But what will 2012 hold? With the Republicans gaining power this year, will they be in disfavor if they can't deliver the job growth the voters crave?
We'll have to wait and see.