Posted by | May 9, 2012 17:52 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

His name is Joe Donnelly and he is a Democratic Congressman running for Senate in Indiana.  He had almost no chance of beating the incumbent, Senator Lugar.  So who do you call in a situation like this?  The Tea Party!  They yesterday propelled Richard Mourdock to a primary victory over Lugar and moved the race into the tossup column.

Mourdock will face Rep. Joe Donnelly (D), a Blue Dog Democrat, who, all of a sudden, has a shot at winning a U.S. Senate seat. Opinions vary on Donnelly’s chances, but one thing is for sure: had Lugar won yesterday, he’d be a lock to win re-election statewide. With Mourdock’s primary success, what was an easy race for the GOP has become a more competitive contest.

And there are signs that Mourdock will have problems.  First is his propensity to wear his extremism proudly.  Second, Lugar is not going down quietly.

If Mr. Mourdock is elected, I want him to be a good Senator. But that will require him to revise his stated goal of bringing more partisanship to Washington. He and I share many positions, but his embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for Hoosiers in the Senate. In effect, what he has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party. His answer to the inevitable roadblocks he will encounter in Congress is merely to campaign for more Republicans who embrace the same partisan outlook. He has pledged his support to groups whose prime mission is to cleanse the Republican party of those who stray from orthodoxy as they see it.

This is not conducive to problem solving and governance. And he will find that unless he modifies his approach, he will achieve little as a legislator. Worse, he will help delay solutions that are totally beyond the capacity of partisan majorities to achieve.

Rep. Donnelly hopes to follow in the footsteps of Democratic Senators Reid, Coons, and Bennett who owe their seats to the Tea Party.  And the chance of the Democrats retaining the majority in the Senate just got a bit higher.

By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.