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Lugar Warns He Will Be Ready for a Primary Challenge

Sen. Dick Lugar won’t repeat some of his Republican colleagues’ mistake of underestimating any primary challengers he may encounter in Indiana in 2012, he said Sunday.

“It could very well be” that he will face a primary challenger, given that he has been known to buck his party, Lugar said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“In the event somebody wants to run, they will at least know they have a competitor in the field who is well-prepared both financially, organizationally, program-wise,” he said.

“I think in the past, perhaps, some of our Republican colleagues may have been surprised,” he continued. “They thought that they didn’t see much coming along, they really weren’t prepared to spend their money in the primary or organize all that much — they were getting ready for the general, and they faced a very bad situation.”

Sen. Bob Bennett didn’t even make it to his primary in the 2010 cycle; the Utah Republican was denied a spot during the state convention. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) lost her primary, as did Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who had switched from the Republican Party to help improve his electoral chances. Murkowski, however, has hung on; she ran as a write-in candidate in the general election, and that race is still undecided.

In the meantime, Republicans must stop operating as the “party of no,” Lugar said.

“I think [a] number of people understand what I’m saying, probably agree, sometimes overtly, maybe more often covertly,” he said. “They understand eventually [that] the American people, angry as they are with the Democrats with this tsunami that came with this election, are finally going to say to Republicans, ‘OK, now what [are] you guys going to do? What, in fact, is your program?’”

Lugar said some of his colleagues would respond that their plan is to defeat President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, then worry about other goals.

“That’s not going to work,” he said. “At some point there has to be constructive Republican programs.”

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