“I’ve met Senator Lugar many times,” adds Kyle Walker, chairman of the Marion County GOP. “He has been very active and accessible to our grassroots folks throughout his campaign.” Like O’Brien, Walker is supporting Lugar in the primary.
And Lugar has stepped up his outreach efforts to the grassroots in recent months. By meeting with them privately and answering their questions, Lugar won over tea partiers Chuck Ford and Don Bauder, who previously planned to support Mourdock. And this week, Lugar is attending a civics event Ford is holding for high-school students.
Still, complaints about Lugar abound. Jared Bond, a 26-year-old Republican activist, notes, “I have been involved in politics for the last twelve years. . . . Prior to September 2011, I had met or seen Senator Lugar on three occasions. Since September 2011, I have been at eight different events where Senator Lugar has been present. Even in 2006, when I served as Senator Lugar’s campus coordinator at Purdue University, I never had the opportunity to meet him.”
One longtime state activist, Rich Bramer, also general counsel to Mourdock’s campaign, writes to NRO: “Until this year, Senator Lugar had not been to my home [Sullivan] county in Indiana since 1999 for any event, political or non-political. . . . Senator Lugar was a constant presence in Indiana in the 1970s and 1980s. . . . His absence from the state first became noticeable to party activists in the mid 1990s and has been very noticeable in the 2000s.”
And Scott Fluhr, chairman of the Harrison County GOP, writes, “Until this past October when he did an event in Corydon, that was the only time I had ever met him. I’d guess that almost everyone present at that event had either never met him or hadn’t seen him in at least a decade and a half.”
But Fluhr also remembers meeting Lugar once before: In middle school, Fluhr won a statewide geography bee and spent half an hour talking with the senior senator when he went to D.C. for the national competition.
— Brian Bolduc is an editorial associate for National Review Online.