(INDIANAPOLIS) - The race for U.S. Senator from Indiana is heating up. Tonight, the Republican race for U.S. Senate will be in the national spotlight as long-time incumbent Richard Lugar will debate challenger and current Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the upcoming primary.
The debate is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in the WFYI studios at 16th and Meridian. WTHR will carry the debate live, as well as streamed on WTHR.com. Viewers nationwide will be able to see it on C-Span. Reporters from The Wall Street Journal, PBS and the web site Politico are credentialed to cover the debate.
Lugar has rarely been challenged by a fellow Republican for his party's nomination. Democrats rarely bothered challenging the veteran politician in the general election. Mourdock is painting himself as a more conservative Republican and is receiving a lot of outside support. Polls show him trailing closely behind Lugar.
This race and tonight's debate will be watched closely not just by Republicans, but also by Democrats, who have a strong opinion and want a particular Republican to be on the ballot. A Mourdock victory might put the Senate seat in play in the fall.
"If Lugar emerges," according to WTHR Republican analyst Peter Rusthoven, "I think most people in Washington - most people in Indiana - would say, 'okay, the Republicans hold that seat.' If Lugar's defeated, that's the one chance the Democrats have to gain that seat in the fall."
Lugar has held the seat for the past 36 years.
Democrats say that the uglier the fight between Republicans for the Senate seat gets better for them. Democrats are united behind their candidate, Joe Donnelly, while Republicans are divided between the two primary candidates. Mourdock's camp keeps talking about change, which Democrats like to hear.
WTHR Democrat analyst Robin Winston sees it this way, "I think, in the final analysis, that the fact that you're saying 'change,' and that there's an effort being made that you say there needs to be a change, benefits Joe Donnelly immensely - because he'll be the beneficiary of that change."
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