Sen. Richard Lugar (R)
Elected: 1976, term expires 2012, 6th term.
Born: April 4, 1932, Indianapolis .
Education: Denison U., B.A. 1954, Rhodes Scholar, Oxford U., M.A. 1956.
Family: Married (Charlene); 4 children.
Military career: Navy, 1957–60.
Elected office: Indianapolis Bd. of Schl. Commissioners, 1964–67; Indianapolis mayor, 1968–75.
Professional Career: Mgr., family farm; V.P. & treas., Thomas L. Green & Co., 1960–67; Prof., U. of Indianapolis, 1976.
Richard Lugar became the most senior Republican in the Senate in the 111th Congress, with the retirement of Pete Domenici of New Mexico and the defeat of scandal-plagued Ted Stevens of Alaska. Lugar’s career in public life stretches back to the late 1950s, when as a young Navy officer he prepared intelligence briefings for Chief of Naval Operations Arleigh Burke and also briefed President Eisenhower. He is the first Indiana senator ever elected to fourth, fifth, and sixth terms. Nationally, he is a powerful voice on foreign policy. Lugar grew up in Indianapolis, near his family’s farm and food-machinery firm that dates back to 1893. He was an Eagle Scout, a straight-A student at Denison College, and a Rhodes scholar. After military service, Lugar returned to the family business; he was elected to the Indianapolis school board in 1964, and then elected mayor in 1967, at age 35. As mayor, he consolidated the city and Marion County into “Unigov,” which brought in tax resources and suburban voters, keeping the city both solvent and Republican (until 1999, when a Democrat was elected mayor). In the late 1960s, Lugar bucked fashion and called for fewer rather than more federal programs, and he became known as President Nixon’s favorite mayor. That was not a political asset in the Watergate scandal year of 1974, however, when Lugar challenged Democratic Sen. Birch Bayh. He lost 51%-46%. But in the more favorable climate of 1976 and against a weaker Democratic incumbent, Sen. Vance Hartke, Lugar won his Senate seat, 59%-40%.
|Richard Lugar (R)||1,171,553||(87%)||($3,133,830)|
|Steve Osborn (Lib)||168,820||(13%)|
|Richard Lugar (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2000 (67%), 1994 (67%), 1988 (68%), 1982 (54%), 1976 (59%)
Throughout his public life, Lugar’s strength has been following his stubborn convictions and letting his considerable intellect guide him, regardless of political risk or reward. Over his long career, he has plenty of accomplishments but also some disappointments. His autonomous course has served him well in Indiana, but has produced mixed results in the Senate and in the national arena. Lugar has a mostly conservative voting record, with some exceptions. In 2007, he voted with Democrats more often than he ever had before. He voted to raise auto mileage standards, fund embryonic-stem-cell research, support the low-income heating program, raise the minimum wage, and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. In 1996, he ran for the Republican nomination for president on his own platform and without any concessions to the political shorthand or television sensibility of the day. Lugar based his campaign on “nuclear security and fiscal sanity”—deterring nuclear terrorism and backing a 17% national sales tax. But he got little media coverage, and after he finished seventh in the Iowa caucuses and fifth in the New Hampshire primary he left the race.
Lugar’s great interest is foreign policy. He chaired the Foreign Relations Committee from 1985 to 1987 and from 2003 to 2007. With Democrats in control of the Senate, he is the ranking Republican on the panel. In 1985, he quickly took command over a committee sharply divided between conservative North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms and liberal Democrats. Lugar was in the middle, backing aid to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua and favoring sanctions against the apartheid government of South Africa. Helms had allowed Lugar to ascend to Foreign Relations chairman that year, despite Helms’s having more seniority, because the North Carolinian had made a campaign promise in the 1984 election to take the chairmanship of the Agriculture Committee. But after Republicans lost their Senate majority in 1986, Helms said he was no longer bound by his promise and invoked seniority. Lugar took the issue to the Republican Conference, but lost a vote there. So Helms was the ranking minority member and chairman for 16 years, while Lugar waited. Helms excluded Lugar from conference committees and seldom communicated with him. Lugar led the fight to ratify the chemical weapons treaty over Helms’s opposition in April 1997, and won. He favored other arms control treaties, including START I in 1992 and START II in 1996, despite opposition from conservatives. Also in the 1990s, Lugar supported expansion of NATO and urged the U.S. to pay its dues to the United Nations. But in 1999, he joined other Republicans in voting against the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, arguing that the United States must keep testing to maintain its nuclear arsenal.
His greatest achievement was the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program to pay Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan to dismantle and destroy their nuclear weapons as well as some chemical and biological weapons. The goal of the 1991 legislation was to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of hostile powers or terrorists. Since then, Lugar has overseen the program to ensure its effectiveness and has gained considerable notice for this work—he and Nunn were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. As of 2005, the Nunn-Lugar program had resulted in the deactivation of 13,300 nuclear warheads, 1,473 intercontinental ballistic missiles, 831 ICBM silos, 442 ICBM mobile missile launchers, 233 bombers, 906 nuclear anti-ship missiles, and much more. All nuclear weapons have been removed from Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. A facility to destroy nerve gas has been built at Shchuchye, Russia, and a pathogen storage facility in Tblisi, Georgia.
After September 11, 2001, Lugar called for a Nunn-Lugar approach to prevent chemical and biological weapons throughout the world from falling into the hands of terrorists. In 2004, Congress enacted legislation extending Nunn-Lugar to Albania. That year, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry accused the Bush administration of slighting Nunn-Lugar, but Lugar credited the administration with getting $10 billion for the program from the other members of the Group of Eight, establishing the Global Threat Reduction Initiative to secure radioactive materials, ending weapons of mass destruction programs in Libya, and securing a U.N. resolution requiring states to criminalize nuclear proliferation. Lugar continues to monitor this work closely. In 2005, he and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois made a trip to Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan to monitor progress. He and Obama co-sponsored a measure extending the Nunn-Lugar program to target terrorists; President Bush signed the bill in January 2007.
Lugar kept a vigilant eye on Iraq throughout the 1990s. Starting in August 1990, he called for an end to Saddam Hussein’s regime and said that U.S. ground troops might have to be sent to Iraq to kill Saddam. But he was not necessarily a team player for the Bush administration. In summer 2002, he and then-Foreign Relations Chairman Joe Biden, a Delaware Democrat, conducted hearings on the Iraq war, but the administration declined to send witnesses. In September 2002, Lugar and Biden drafted a use of force resolution to impose geographical limits on the authorization for war and require the administration either to obtain a U.N. resolution supporting the war or to certify to Congress that such efforts at the U.N. failed. Their work was bypassed when House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt and Democratic Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Evan Bayh of Indiana agreed with the administration on a different, less restrictive resolution. In late 2002, Lugar complained that the White House had not briefed him on postwar plans for Iraq. In early 2004, he said that the administration “failed to communicate” its plans to Congress and argued that the scheduled June 30 turnover of the government to the Iraqis was too soon; he also called for increasing the size of the Army by 80,000 soldiers. Later that year, he said that the administration’s failure to spend more than $1 billion of $18 billion appropriated for Iraqi reconstruction resulted from a “lack of planning.” Although Democrats have accused Republicans of failing to perform oversight while in the majority, Lugar in four years as chairman held 40 hearings on Iraq.
In January 2007, Lugar voted against a resolution before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee opposing the strategy to send a “surge” of troops into Iraq to restore order. And in June 2007 he dealt an unexpected blow to the Bush administration when he sharply criticized its Iraq policy and predicted that the surge strategy would fail. “In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved,” he said. “A course change should happen now, while there is still some possibility of constructing a sustainable bipartisan strategy in Iraq.” With Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, he sponsored an amendment that would have required the administration to present an exit strategy by September 2007 and to begin withdrawing troops by December. But Majority Leader Harry Reid favored even stronger stands and pulled the amendment from the floor.
Lugar was chairman of the Agriculture Committee from 1995 to 2001. He liked to point out that he was the only working farmer on the committee—he owns 604 acres—and he played a key role in the 1996 passage of the Freedom to Farm Act, which purported to phase out over seven years the farm subsidies of which he had long been a critic. But low crop prices starting in 1998 resulted in disaster-relief payments that kept in place something very much like the old subsidy system. In 2001, Lugar opposed the House farm bill with its big increases for historically subsidized crops, and proposed his own bill, guaranteeing up to 80% of income of qualified farmers, but at far less cost. But with key Senate races coming up in states with historically subsidized farmers, the Senate passed a farm bill similar to the House’s and President Bush signed it. Lugar took a similar course, with similar results, when the farm bill came up for renewal in December 2007. He sponsored an amendment to end almost all crop subsidies and to instead provide more crop insurance and conservation spending. It was defeated 58-37. Lugar voted against the final bill that passed in 2008.
Another Lugar issue is energy, particularly reducing dependence on oil. He has driven a Toyota Prius since 2005, and he grows carbon-sequestering walnut trees on his farm. In 2002, he voted for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and, despite the importance of auto manufacturing in Indiana, he has voted to raise fuel-efficiency standards. He has supported ethanol production, but also sponsored a bill in 2007 to revoke the ethanol tax credit when oil prices rise above $45 a barrel. And he has often called for eliminating the 54% tariff on biofuels, which prevents the importation of cheap Brazilian sugar ethanol. With Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin, Lugar has worked to change the tax code to give pipeline companies incentives to transport ethanol. The two also co-sponsored a bill to require all cars to be flex-fuel and to make half of U.S. gas stations carry E-85 ethanol by 2016. In the 2007 energy bill, Lugar sought higher production of biofuels, stricter efficiency standards for appliances, and cash awards to inventors of replacements for 60-watt light bulbs and floodlights.
Lugar was one of the 23 Republicans who in May 2006 supported the Senate immigration bill, with its guest-worker program and path-to-legalization provisions. He also sponsored legislation to give conditional legal status to young illegal immigrants who graduate from U.S. high schools and either graduate from a two-year or four-year college or complete two years of military service.
In Indiana, Lugar has remained vastly popular. He was re-elected 68%-32% in 1988, 67%-31% in 1994, and 67%-32% in 2000. In 2006, former Democratic Rep. Timothy Roemer declined to run against him and he had no Democratic opponent. Democratic state Chairman Dan Parker said, “Let’s be honest. Richard Lugar is beloved not only by Republicans, but by independents and Democrats.” Lugar did not object when presidential candidate Barack Obama frequently mentioned their joint work on nuclear proliferation and used pictures of the Indianan in campaign ads. There was speculation in November 2008 that Lugar would get a position in the Obama administration, but he said he wanted to stay in the Senate. If he serves out this term, he will have served twice as long as any other Indiana senator.