Indiana Dems 'Giddy' Over Senate Race Against 'Unwavering Conservative' Richard Mourdock, Claims NYTimes

The Times' Monica Davey and Trip Gabriel shared Democratic "giddiness" over the possibility of winning a Senate seat in the Republican-leaning state Indiana on Thursday: "With Primary Over, a New Battle for Indiana Senate Seat Begins." The text box was all sunshine for the Democratic Party's prospects for the Indiana seat: "Strategies emerge as Democrats now see a chance at a win."

The morning after Senator Richard G. Lugar, in his 36th year in office, was overwhelmingly defeated in a Republican primary election, this state awoke on Wednesday to another surprise: A new battle, now likely to be far fiercer and costlier than once expected, was already brewing over the seat he leaves behind.

Democrats were casting the general election fight as a referendum on whether moderates should still have a place in Washington, while Tea Party organizers said it would be seen as a national test of the movement’s enduring strength.

Democratic leaders, who had doubted their odds against Mr. Lugar, a Republican so moderate that even the leaders admitted that plenty of Democrats liked him, sounded giddy about their November opponent: Richard E. Mourdock, a Tea Party-supported Republican who seized a remarkable 61 percent of the vote in part by denouncing bipartisanship and pledging to an unwavering conservative approach.

“Democratic donors across the country are going to see this as a prime pickup opportunity,” said Matt Canter, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who added that the Indiana seat would fall among five top Republican-held seats being targeted in the fight for control of the Senate.

Labor leaders, too, said they saw an opportunity now in Indiana. “We’re all ramping up our plans as we speak,” said Nancy J. Guyott, president of the Indiana A.F.L.-C.I.O.

National conservative groups, some of which had poured more than $3 million to benefit Mr. Mourdock in the primary, were poised to send still more if needed. The number of such outside groups also appeared likely to grow if the contest here, against Representative Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, appears truly competitive -- a notion some conservative leaders remained skeptical about, given Indiana’s Republican leanings.