Things are heating up in the Indiana Senate race, with Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and his Republican primary challenger, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, trading a new round of attack ads a month out from the May 8 primary.
Lugar’s ad against Mourdock goes after the challenger’s support from national conservative activist groups.
“Hoosiers need leaders who fight for us,” the announcer says. “But RM’s already sold out to D.C. outsider groups — running his campaign on the backs of their money, and Mickey-Mouse attacks.”
The ad also grabs a video sound-bite of Lugar saying: “I’m confident there will be a lot of national money flowing in to help us.”
Mourdock’s ad goes after Lugar for having called in the past for a higher gasoline tax in order to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
“Obama’s failed energy policy has gas prices skyrocketing. Hoosier families are paying the price,” the announcer says. “Yet, Dick Lugar wanted to raise gas taxes a dollar a gallon. That’s right. Lugar wanted us to pay an extra dollar for every gallon of gas. That’s outrageous. Richard Mourdock will oppose higher gas taxes. He’ll fight for lower gas prices, and greater energy independence. Richard Mourdock — it’s time.”
To be exact, the ad refers to a guest column that Lugar wrote for the Washington Post back in February 2009. Lugar called for a “net-zero” tax shift, under which the increased federal revenue from the gas tax would be matched dollar for dollar by cuts in the payroll tax. The general principle of tax shifts is that they encourage people to consume less of the targeted item, such as gasoline, in order to reap the benefits of the decreases in other taxes.
Lugar wrote at the time: “The gains from accurately priced gasoline would grow as Americans demanded more fuel-efficient vehicles, chose non-petroleum alternatives to power them and found public transit options that work. Pricing gasoline to reflect its true cost to the nation would help spur a vast market in which oil alternatives such as advanced biofuels would become competitive and innovation would flourish.”
In response to the new ad, the Lugar campaign released a statement touting his strong support of energy development: “While Richard Mourdock is digging up old newspapers, Senator Dick Lugar is fighting President Obama’s hostility to domestic oil production, his rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline and his over-regulations of oil and coal. Lugar’s legislative efforts would break our vulnerability to foreign oil and his votes consistently support real solutions.”