Political Animal


April 27, 2012 5:53 PM Palin Bets Against Lugar

By Ed Kilgore

Less than two weeks before the Indiana primary, the best bet conservatives have this year for purging an Establishment RINO from the Senate, Sarah Palin has endorsed Dick Lugar’s opponent, Richard Mourdock, via Facebook, her preferred medium for communicating with the world when she’s not on TV:

Indiana deserves a conservative in the Senate who will fight for the Hoosier State, uphold our Constitution, and not just go along to get along with the vested interests of the permanent political class in D.C.
Richard Mourdock is the conservative choice for Indiana. Senator Lugar’s 36 years of service as a Senator are appreciated, but it’s time for the torch to pass to conservative leadership in Washington that promises to rein in government spending now.

It was a reminder that for all her peripatetic activity in 2010—she eventually endorsed 48 candidates for governor or Congress, just over half of whom eventually took office—this is her first real endorsement this cycle, if you don’t count her semi-endorsement of Newt Gingrich for president.

It’s hard to simply describe her endorsement strategy in 2010. Sometimes she took a flyer on a long shot, like Clint Didier in Washington; sometimes she weighed in relatively late on a sure thing, like Marco Rubio in Florida. Sometimes she campaigned avidly for candidates, like Nikki Haley in South Carolina; quite a few other times she just provided the Facebook Seal of Approval.

All in all, she was relatively shrewd in her choices, though mostly via endorsing viable conservative women to boost her Mama Grizzly brand. So it’s not clear whether she’s giving the nod to Mourdock because she thinks he’s going to win, or because she needs to keep up her wingnut street cred, and this is the first big primary battle of the year. We’ll know more if Mourdock wins, and/or if Palin weighs in on behalf of other promising “insurgents” like Ted Cruz in Texas or Don Stenberg in Nebraska.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Joel on April 27, 2012 6:45 PM:

    And we care what Palin thinks . . . why?

  • Lev @ LibraryGrape.com on April 27, 2012 6:45 PM:

    This feels more like the "picking a sure thing" option to me, not unlike her endorsement of Carly Fiorina here in California against the flagging Tom Campbell and the hopeless Chuck DeVore. Mourdock has built up extraordinary momentum against Lugar, even though there doesn't really seem to be any extraordinary reason for it. Really, what this episode should teach Republicans is that the Tea Party isn't especially savvy and is just picking people to target at random, terrorist-like, to scare Republicans into not defying them. Which means you might as well ignore them, since there's nothing you can really do to placate them if you get picked.

  • Skip on April 27, 2012 10:06 PM:

    What is the common denominator among her picks? Is it a) some comparison of similar standards on the complex issues or b) as simplistic as each having said something complimentary about the half-term governor?

    The answer is c) whatever felt "right" to her at the moment.

  • brian t. raven on April 28, 2012 1:01 AM:

    Two hundred years from now people will be taught about Sen. Lugar and all the great things he did. Other people will be forgotten.

  • Shelly on April 28, 2012 8:51 AM:

    Much better handling of Palin, Ed. None of that tedious self-conscious snark, just straight up reporting. More like this, please.