Friday, May 11, 2012

Indiana Senate upset a big victory for term limits

USTL President Philip Blumel with Richard Mourdock in IN
The May 8 victory of Richard Mourdock in the Indiana Republican primary for U.S. Senate is being cast as a victory of the tea party over the establishment. Indeed it was.

But it was something else too: another step down the path to achieving Congressional term limits.

Mourdock, it turns out, is one of the 167 Congressional candidates -- so far -- who have signed the U.S. Term Limits pledge to, if elected, cosponsor and vote for a Congressional term limits amendment. He is an explicit supporter of Sen. Jim DeMint's Congressional term limits amendment bill, SJR 11, which Mourdock said he plans to cosponsor.
Sen. Richard Lugar

For this reason, I spent a couple of days on the road with Mourdock in the final week of the primary campaign. In joint appearances across the state, I told the term limits story and announced the endorsement Mourdock received from the Term Limits America PAC.

In dissecting Mourdock's victory, pundits are pointing to a gaggle of issues directly related to term limits as the decisive factor in the last minute surge of support for Mourdock.

Mourdock's opponent, the 36-year incumbent Senator Richard Lugar, is 80 years old, has not lived in Indiana for years and has not faced an opponent in 12 years -- or a meaningful one for much longer. He was a respected figure in the bipartisan spending and foreign policy consensus of the last generation and was seen as out of touch with the new energetic breed of activist-candidates fueled by what they see as a looming debt crisis. In a February "Sense of the Senate" vote on Congressional term limits, Sen. Lugar voted 'no.'

Mourdock, on the other hand, is 60 years old and as Indiana's state treasurer had sued the Obama administration over its bailout and extra-legal reorganization of Chrysler. He had self-limited his terms as a county commissioner earlier in his career and has done so again for the U.S. Senate, promising to serve just two terms. Mourdock also had a 30-year career as a geologist and businessman and can claim to offer some real world experience to the Senate.

There is a changing of the guard in the U.S. Senate. The newcomers -- Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, JimDemint, Tom Coburn and others -- are on board with term limits, while the dinosaurs they are replacing are the ones who stood in term limits way.

Hopefully after November we can add Richard Mourdock to that list.