Palin Bets Against Lugar

Less than two weeks before the Indiana primary, the best bet conservatives have this year for purging an Establishment RINO from the Senate, Sarah Palin has endorsed Dick Lugar’s opponent, Richard Mourdock, via Facebook, her preferred medium for communicating with the world when she’s not on TV:

Indiana deserves a conservative in the Senate who will fight for the Hoosier State, uphold our Constitution, and not just go along to get along with the vested interests of the permanent political class in D.C.

Richard Mourdock is the conservative choice for Indiana. Senator Lugar’s 36 years of service as a Senator are appreciated, but it’s time for the torch to pass to conservative leadership in Washington that promises to rein in government spending now.

It was a reminder that for all her peripatetic activity in 2010–she eventually endorsed 48 candidates for governor or Congress, just over half of whom eventually took office–this is her first real endorsement this cycle, if you don’t count her semi-endorsement of Newt Gingrich for president.

It’s hard to simply describe her endorsement strategy in 2010. Sometimes she took a flyer on a long shot, like Clint Didier in Washington; sometimes she weighed in relatively late on a sure thing, like Marco Rubio in Florida. Sometimes she campaigned avidly for candidates, like Nikki Haley in South Carolina; quite a few other times she just provided the Facebook Seal of Approval.

All in all, she was relatively shrewd in her choices, though mostly via endorsing viable conservative women to boost her Mama Grizzly brand. So it’s not clear whether she’s giving the nod to Mourdock because she thinks he’s going to win, or because she needs to keep up her wingnut street cred, and this is the first big primary battle of the year. We’ll know more if Mourdock wins, and/or if Palin weighs in on behalf of other promising “insurgents” like Ted Cruz in Texas or Don Stenberg in Nebraska.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.