Lugar may become the oldest story in town - out-of-touch incumbent loses re-election bid 

Way back when, he was President Nixon's "favorite mayor." Now he's President Obama's "favorite Republican." He is Sen. Richard Lugar, R-IN.

Here's something else he may be about 18 months from becoming - the former senior senator from Indiana.

Lugar has been in the Senate since 1977 and ranks third in seniority in that august chamber, outranked only by senators Daniel Inoyhe of Hawaii and Patrick Leahy of Vermont. He is the highest ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is greatly respected in Establishment Washington as a GOP moderate.

Barring an unexpected decision to retire before November 2012, Lugar will face Indiana voters for the sixth time as the incumbent. He recently raised an estimated $400,000 from one event and has amassed a campaign warchest in excess of $2.3 million. Expect that total to swell in coming months.

He's also raised something else - the hackles of Indiana Tea Party members and a primary challenger, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

According to the conventional wisdom, Lugar's seniority, establishment connections, well-funded campaign treasury, and easy access to sympathetic national media coverage should make him a shoo-in for a seventh term.

Don't count on it. Lugar made  a big mistake by claiming last year that the Tea Party needed to "get real." He might as well have put on a dunce cap because such remarks often hint at the very attitudes of overweening pride of incumbency and blindness to genuine voter dissatisfaction that have driven many a respected incumbent into retirement - think Tom Daschle, Jim Wright, Tom Foley and Robert Bennett.

Saying things like that is how you become the latest installment of that old, familiar Washington story - former senator.

That Mourdock is not to be taken lightly is clear from this Indianapolis Star report on his recent Senate announcement. And there's something else about Mourdock - he's not the stereotypical "angry white guy" Tea Partyer so often portrayed in the liberal mainstream media.

That much is clear from this campaign video of his announcement. It's a sympathetic rendering, of course, but there's more than enough there to make clear Mourdock will be a formidable primary opponent for the 79-year-old Lugar:

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Mark Tapscott

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