Tea-Party-Backed Winner Emerged as Bailout Foe
Three years into his job as Indiana's state treasurer, Richard Mourdock made a decision that set in motion his long-shot win against six-term incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar in Tuesday's Republican Senate primary.
Mr. Mourdock decided he would not just oppose a federal bailout of Chrysler Group LLC, despite the tens of thousands of auto jobs in the state. He filed suit to try to block it.
He took the matter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that three state pension funds were unfairly damaged by the agreement. He lost the case, but won the admiration of tea-party activists who would later back his Senate run.
"It's not the government's role to pick winners and losers," he said in an interview Tuesday, explaining his opposition to bailouts, a position that could hurt him in the general election against Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly in the industrialized state.
Unlike some tea-party-backed candidates who have successfully defeated establishment Republicans, Mr. Mourdock has long sought political office, losing more often than he has won. He ran, and lost, races for Congress in 1988, 1990 and 1992.
His political views are down-the-line conservative. He is opposed to abortion rights and judicial nominees who support them, to gun-control laws, and to the Dream Act, which would help people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. He calls the Obama health-care law "blatantly unconstitutional." He has questioned whether Social Security and Medicare are constitutional, though he said he supports both programs, albeit with spending cuts for future retirees.
If he is elected this fall, don't expect him to work with many Democrats. He says the problem with Washington is too much bipartisanship, and he won the primary Tuesday by painting Mr. Lugar as too eager to compromise and too close to President Barack Obama.
He said Tuesday that there are times in American history when the political parties are so far apart that there is no room for compromise. Republicans, he said, back a reduced size of government while Democrats want "European, socialist-style government."
"We're in this historical period where one side has to win this argument," he said.