WASHINGTON – Rep. Joe Donnelly defeated Richard Mourdock in the Indiana race for Senate, delivering Democrats a seat that was long held by Republicans.
The race, which was called Tuesday by the Associated Press and NBC News, became unexpectedly competitive when Mourdock, riding a wave of tea party frustration with Washington, ousted longtime Sen. Richard Lugar in the Republican primary.
The move infuriated so-called Lugar Republicans – moderate voters who admired the elder statesman’s ability to reach across the aisle, particularly on matters of foreign policy, to get things done in Washington. And it created an opening for Donnelly, the Democratic candidate, to vie for those voters.
Mourdock took a different approach. He doubled down on the strategy that had helped him win the primary.
“Bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view,” he said in a TV appearance just hours after he had won the nomination.
"The highlight of politics," he said, “is to inflict my opinion on someone else.”
Mourdock contends that the latter statement was meant as a joke and that the former was taken out of context. But Democrats seized on the sound bites as evidence that Mourdock was too extreme for moderate Hoosiers. They even dispatched Bill Clinton to Indianapolis to make the case.